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U.S. to replace carrier in Persian Gulf

March 30, 2007|From Reuters

MANAMA, BAHRAIN — The U.S. Navy said Thursday that it had ordered an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to replace one of two patrolling the region, as the United States wound down naval war games on Iran's doorstep.

The Nimitz carrier strike group will sail from San Diego for the gulf on Monday, a navy spokesman said. It will replace the Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Strike groups typically include four or five frigates and destroyers and a submarine.

"You are looking at the early part of May that you would have the transition. It would be without any overlap. There is no plan to overlap them at all," Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis said by telephone from naval headquarters in Washington.

The Eisenhower and fellow carrier John C. Stennis took part in this week's war games, the largest American military exercise in Persian Gulf waters since 2003, when the U.S. led the invasion of Iraq. The drills included anti-submarine, anti-surface and mine warfare.

The 5th Fleet has said the decision to hold the exercises was made within the last two weeks, and planning was accelerated as tensions mounted between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program and its capture of British naval personnel.

Spokesmen for the fleet, based in Bahrain, have said the exercises were meant to reassure allies of the U.S. commitment to security in the region. Only U.S. ships took part.

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