The USS Nimitz was rerouted to the Red Sea on Monday, according to US defense officials, who explained it was “prudent planning” for potential military action against Syria.
The massive aircraft carrier entered the waters of the Red Sea at 6 am EDT, but has not yet received orders to move into the Mediterranean, where five US destroyers and an amphibious ship are already poised.
Along with the Nimitz, Reuters reports that the Princeton, a cruiser, and three destroyers — the William P. Lawrence, Stockdale, and Shoup — also made their way to the Red Sea.
One official, whose name was not released, explained that the ship movements, “place that strike group in a position to respond to a variety of contingencies.”
The USS Nimitz movements come just days after President Barack Obama announced he will seek Congress’ approval before carrying out a limited attack against Syria for its use of chemical weapons against civilians last month.
ABC News notes that the carrier strike group has not yet been assigned a mission. Rather, its move to the Red Sea will make sure all resources are available should the US strike Syria.
Before its move on Monday morning, the carrier just ended a months-long deployment to the Arabian Sea. Its fighter aircraft were providing air support over Afghanistan. The nuclear-powered carrier was replaced by the USS Harry S Truman and was expected to start the journey home soon.
US officials have said that any limited strike in Syria would likely be in the form of Tomohawk cruise missiles. The attack would be carried out by the Navy destroyers already positioned in the Mediterranean. Two of the destroyers already in position have already been held over at the end of their deployments because of the situation in Syria. They are serving alongside the two ships meant to replace them.
Defense officials have also said that the delay in ordering strikes will give them time to assess which ships should stay and which ships should go. The decision on military action won’t be made until at least September 9, when Congress returns from recess. Until then, it is likely the USS Nimitz and other ships will stay close to Syria.
[Image by US Navy via Wikimedia Commons]