WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Two U.S. warships are being deployed to the Black Sea as backup security during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, officials said Saturday.
The USS Mount Whitney, a command ship and the flagship of the Sixth Fleet, left Gaeta, Italy, its home port, Saturday morning, ABC News reported. A frigate, the USS Taylor, was scheduled to leave Italy Saturday as well.
The Department of Defense told ABC Italy the Whitney is "to conduct scheduled maritime security operations in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations."
The most likely use for the two vessels would be to evacuate U.S. citizens in the event of trouble at the games, officials say.
Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian general staff, made an informal request for assistance at a meeting last week with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff -- with technology to be used against improvised explosive devices, a military official told ABC.
Russia plans tight security for the games, which begin Feb. 7.