WASHINGTON — The Reagan Administration has ordered the Navy to indefinitely extend the deployment of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy and the 11 ships in its combat group in the Mediterranean, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
Col. Marvin Braman, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to discuss the reasons for the extension.
However, informed sources who asked not to be named said the order was issued as a precaution in response to the recent wave of hostage-taking in Lebanon and reports that Anglican envoy Terry Waite may be missing.
The Kennedy, which left its home port in Norfolk, Va., last August, had been scheduled to leave for home next week after completing a standard, six-month tour. The nuclear-powered carrier Nimitz is also in the Mediterranean, having arrived earlier this month to relieve the Kennedy.
The informed sources also said that the Navy has ordered its Mideast task force to move some smaller warships deeper into the Persian Gulf. The Navy has no carriers in the region, but it does have five smaller combat ships.
The order to the gulf ships was described as a sign of support for a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference under way in Kuwait.