The US Navy has deployed the Wasp-class amphibious assault vessel USS Bataan, with 1,000 marines, into the Mediterranean Sea, in the wake of worsening unrest in Libya.
US officials claimed it was a ‘precautionary’ measure, ready to swing into action if the US Embassy needs to be evacuated.
In a simultaneous move, the US Department of State has issued an advisory to all Americans in Libya to leave the country immediately, as battles for power have pushed the country into anarchy.
The Department of State advisory said: "Due to security concerns, the Department of State has limited staffing at Embassy Tripoli and is only able to offer very limited emergency services to US citizens in Libya."
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An anonymous US defence official was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that the USS Bataan will be in the area ‘in a matter of days’.
The vessel will not be near Libya and is not expected to be placed off its coast. However, it will remain in the region, and could travel or respond rapidly if need be.
The USS Bataan is equipped with several helicopters, in addition to 1,000 marines.
The US also has 250 marines, seven tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft and three refuelling jets available in Sigonella, Italy.
This latest step comes in the midst of an ongoing storm over a September 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US citizens were killed.
Libya has been witnessing an uprising of militias with weapons readily available.
Meanwhile, armed men have reportedly attacked the house of Libya’s new Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq, although no one was hurt in the incident.
Image: The US Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault vessel USS Bataan (LHD-5). Photo: courtesy of US Navy, Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Dennis Timms.