"Its presence in the Gulf adds to that of other U.S. naval ships already there -- including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush -- and provides the commander in chief additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq, should he choose to use them."
The USS Mesa Verde is "capable of conducting a variety of quick-reaction and crisis response operations," Kirby noted. The amphibious transport dock ship is transporting an unspecified number of MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
Captain Kenneth Reynard, Mesa Verde's commanding officer, explained via Facebook that, "The ship's unique assets and capabilities combine with the other naval forces in the region to provide a deterrent for activity, as well as the ability to quickly respond to any situation with flexibility, should we be needed."
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]
Syrian Al Qaida group executes Lebanese soldier