The Pentagon is sending the aircraft carrier USS John Stennis to the Persian Gulf region four months ahead of schedule for an eight-month deployment – twice as long as originally planned, defense officials told NBC News on Monday.
The major shift in the Stennis deployment is a response to steadily rising tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s threat to shut down the Strait of Hormuz over tighter international sanctions and the possibility that Israel may launch pre-emptive airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facility.
Iran renewed threats on Sunday to close the strait, through which 40 percent of he world’s seaborne oil exports pass.
The shift and extension of the Stennis deployment will allow the U.S. Central Command to keep two aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region, Gulf of Oman and North Arabian Sea, not only as a hedge against Iran, but also to support combat air operations over Afghanistan.
The carrier USS Lincoln left the Persian Gulf area Monday.
The carriers Enterprise and Eisenhower will remain in the region until the Stennis relieves the Enterprise about five months from now.
It will take the Stennis about a month to reach the region.
The Stennis, whose home port is Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Wash., is at sea in the Pacific, the Navy said.
This is a copy of the full article provided by MSNBC