WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Elements of the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group began deployment to the Persian Gulf to assist the USS Eisenhower Strike Group already positioned there.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier left its homeport in Bremerton, Wash., on Jan. 16 and made a stop in San Diego to join with the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam and the guided missile destroyer USS Preble. The fleet departed San Diego on Jan. 20 and will be joined by guided missile destroyers USS O'Kane and USS Paul Hamilton in transit, according to a report from Navy Newsstand.
"We will support Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, the Horn of Africa and maritime security operations with the purpose to provide regional and global stability," said Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3, according to Navy Newsstand.
Deployment of the Stennis group has been much anticipated. Many analysts believe that the presence of a second carrier group in the U.S. 5th fleet area of operations signifies a move by the Bush administration to prepare for a showdown with Iran.
"We are ready, we are sustainable, we are flexible and we provide awesome combat capability," said Quinn. "Just the fact there are going to be two carrier strike groups operating in that region could deter any state or non-state sponsored organizations from doing something we wouldn't want them to do."