USS Nimitz: Navy Carrier Sent to Wait in the Red Sea, Could This be Another Step Toward a Military Strike on Syria?
By Maxine Wally | Sep 02, 2013 11:28 AM EDT
The United States sent a USS Nimitz warship to the Red Sea on Monday, joining four other ships already stationed there in case the White House decides to execute a strike on Syria.
Although no orders have been given to strike Syria, defense officials told Reuters that the aircraft carrier Nimitz will remain stationed in Middle Eastern waters should the Obama Administration give the green light to move forward on Damascus.
Sending USS Nimitz, a supercarrier of the Navy, to the Red Sea was an act of "prudent planning," officials said.
USS Nimitz arrived in the Red Sea at about 6 a.m. EST, but did not receive orders to advance further. The strike group is waiting to hear whether or not they should move into the Mediterranean, where five other destroyer vessels and another ship remain on standby.
A cruiser ship, the Princeton, and three destroyers-William P. Lawrence, Stockdale and Shoup-accompany Nimitz.
Putting Nimitz at the ready makes an American strike on Syria seem even more possible and imminent, an official who spoke on conditions of anonymity told Reuters.
"It does place that strike group in a position to respond to a variety of contingencies," the government official said.
Since last week, the U.S. Navy has sent two more destroyers to wait with the three already stationed there to keep watch in the area.
The carriers are holding a combined cargo of around 200 Tomahawk missiles. Officials maintain that a strike on Syria will be limited, and won't require more than half of those missiles.
Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry made a speech in which he stated that there was an overwhelming amount of evidence indicating that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons including sarin gas on civilians.
U.S. President Obama said that the regime's use of chemical weaponry on its citizens would be a "red line" for America. But on Saturday, the POTUS fell back on proposed strikes by five destroyers off the coast of Syria until Congress could vote on potential military action.
Congress is currently in recess, and will resume September 9. Navy officials said this time will give them an opportunity to reevaluate which carriers and weapons will remain in the area.