On Tuesday, US defense officials announced that the USS Bataan had moved into the Mediterranean Sea. The Bataan, which has a home port of Norfolk, Virginia, is a Navy warship that will be used for any possible evacuation of American citizens from Libya. The state department is urging Americans to leave the North African country immediately. ABC News posted an Associated Press article about the Bataan wherein State Department officials say the ship is not near Libya at this time, but will remain in the area so it can respond quickly if needed. Currently there has been no move to evacuate diplomats from the embassy. The department is quoted as having said the security situation in Libya “remains unpredictable and unstable.”
In December, the State Department warned US Citizens against all non-essential travel to Tripoli and against any travel outside the Libyan capital. The country has been in turmoil and has seen great amounts of violence since the uprising that overthrew long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. USA Today reports that earlier this month, renegade general Khalifa Hifter started a bloody military offensive in the east to crush Islamist extremists. This has resulted in increased violence in the area and greater risks for Americans who are in Libya. The movement of the Bataan is an effort to have assistance in the region if it becomes necessary.
This is the second US Naval ship to go by the name Bataan. The first was a light aircraft carrier that served in World War II and the Korean War. The current Bataan, an amphibious assault ship, was commissioned in 1997. The name comes from the Bataan Peninsula, the scene of the Battle of Bataan in 1942 in the Philippines. April 9 marked the 72nd anniversary of the start of the Bataan Death March, the forced transfer of 60,000 to 80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war by the Imperial Japanese Army, following that battle. Events are held throughout the country each year on this anniversary in memory of those who suffered and died in the battle.
The Facebook page for the USS Bataan shows recently uploaded photos of the crew working on the ship and preparing for the international “Eager Lion” military exercise, which is held annually in Jordan. The page gives the families and friends of the deployed an opportunity to see pictures to their loved once while they are at sea and keep track of their journey which aboard the USS Bataan.
Photo via strategypages.com