Entries in Aircraft Carrier (5)


Pentagon Sends Carrier to the Middle East Ahead of Schedule

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Tina Lamb(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon is sending the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis to sea four months ahead of schedule to ensure that there are at least two carriers in the Middle East.

The U.S. Navy has had two carriers operating in the Middle East for quite some time.  It usually rotates one of the two carriers into the Persian Gulf for several weeks at a time while the other operates in the Arabian Sea, providing air support for the war in Afghanistan.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesman George Little confirmed that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has agreed to a recent request from U.S. Central Command to maintain a two-carrier presence in the Middle East.

In September the U.S. was going to go down to one carrier, as the USS Enterprise would not be replaced after it left the region.  To prevent that from happening the Stennis has had its deployment orders changed from the Pacific to the Middle East.

Little says the Stennis is being sent so that there is no gap in between two carrier assignments to the region.  Also being sent on the deployment will be the cruiser USS Mobile Bay.

Little said the need to send the carrier early was, “not a decision based solely on the challenges posed by Iran.”

On Sunday, the USS Eisenhower replaced the other carrier in the region, the USS Abraham Lincoln, which is headed to Norfolk for maintenance work.

In order to make the Stennis/Enterprise swap possible, the Enterprise’s deployment will be extended for what officials say will be “a few days.”  It also means the crew of the Stennis will be out to sea for longer than they had expected.  Originally slated for a four-month Pacific Ocean deployment, the Stennis will now leave four months early to serve a seven month deployment that will last through April 2013.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Carrier Sails Through Strait of Hormuz

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Will Tyndall/Released(WASHINGTON) -- An American aircraft carrier passed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf over the weekend, in what the U.S. Navy is calling a routine maneuver.

Amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the USS Abraham Lincoln entered the Gulf on Sunday to conduct scheduled maritime security operations.  The carrier had just arrived in the United States Central Command area on Thursday, replacing the USS Stennis, which is now headed home.

“USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) completed a regular and routine transit of the Strait of Hormuz, January 22, to conduct maritime security operations as scheduled and in support of requirements set by the combatant commander. The transit was completed as previously scheduled and without incident,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.

In December, Iranian officials had warned the U.S. not to return after the carrier USS John Stennis departed the Gulf.  Iran also suggested the Strait may be closed in retaliation over fresh economic sanctions imposed against the country.

The other U.S. carrier currently in the region is the USS Carl Vinson, which is in the Arabian Sea and is providing air cover for troops in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pentagon Dismisses Latest Iranian Threat to Stop Naval Carrier

U.S. Navy/Photographer's Mate Airman Tina Lamb(WASHINGTON) -- Iran's latest volley in its ongoing dispute with the West won't prevent the USS John C. Stennis from reentering the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Stung by additional economic and political sanctions because of its illicit nuclear program, Iran has threatened to close down the Strait of Hormuz so that international oil shipments can't get through.

Washington has said that any attempt to affect the transportation of oil will be met with swiftly.

Meanwhile, Iranian Army Chief Ataollah Salehi reportedly said that the USS John C. Stennis, which is now in the Northern Arabian Sea to help with the war effort in Afghanistan, won't be allowed back into the Persian Gulf.

But Pentagon Press Secretary George Little responded that, "the deployment of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades."

The Pentagon says that Iran keeps making idle threats because of the damage being done to its economy through the latest round of tough sanctions brought on by its ongoing nuclear ambitions.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US to China: Why Do You Need an Aircraft Carrier?

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As China's first aircraft carrier takes to the open seas Wednesday for its inaugural sea trials, the U.S. government directed a pointed question at the Chinese military: Why would you need a warship like that?

"We would welcome any kind of explanation that China would like to give for needing this kind of equipment," U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Wednesday. "We have had concerns for some time and we've been quite open with them with regard to the lack of transparency from China regarding its power projection and its lack of access and denial of capabilities."

Nuland said the State Department is concerned that the Chinese military is not "transparent" enough about its build-up which, in addition to the aircraft carrier, also includes the development of a fifth-generation stealth jet fighter believed to be capable of rivaling America's best.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng told reporters in China last month the ship, which was built from the shell of an old Soviet carrier, is only "for the purposes of technological research, experiments and training."

But in June, another official with the Chinese Defense Ministry told a Hong Kong newspaper the vessel represented more than a training opportunity.

"All of the great nations in the world own aircraft carriers -- they are symbols of a great nation," Lt. Gen. Qi Jianguo, assistant chief of the general staff, told the Hong Kong Commercial Daily.

At the time, the U.S. Department of Defense told ABC News it was well aware of Chinese ambitions to build not one, but multiple aircraft carriers as part of an effort to modernize its military. The U.S. will "maintain the military capabilities necessary to protect our interests, defend our allies, and deter potential adversaries from acts of aggression and intimidation," a spokesperson said then.

The development of the carrier comes as China has expanded its rhetoric regarding its claims in the South China Sea -- where as many as six Asian countries have claimed overlapping territorial waters -- while telling the U.S. to stay out of it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


China Finally Reveals 'Secret' Aircraft Carrier

George Doyle/Thinkstock(HONG KONG) -- It’s one of the world’s worst-kept military secrets, but China’s defense minister, Chen Bingde, has finally come out and told a Hong Kong newspaper that “an aircraft carrier has been under construction, but has not been completed.”

The 990-foot long carrier is being constructed in the northeast port of Dalian.  While Chen refused to give a completion date, it is reportedly close and tests are expected to start later this year.

It took an army of workers five years to transform the Soviet-era hull, which was initially bought by a company with ties to the People's Liberation Army who claimed they were building a floating casino destined for Macau.

Chen’s assistant chief, Lt. Gen. Qi Jianguo, assistant chief of the general staff, was quoted by the Hong Kong Commercial Daily as saying, "All of the great nations in the world own aircraft carriers -- they are symbols of a great nation."  But he also emphasized that after the carrier was deployed it would "definitely not sail to other countries' territorial waters".

Certainly for China, having an aircraft carrier is a powerful symbol of the growing might of its navy.  It is a symbol of deterrence but also potentially a symbol of aggression, particularly in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea and the Taiwan Straits.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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