The US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush to be repositioned into the Persian Gulf to safeguard American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq.
The latest order, which is aimed at strengthening sea and airpower prior to a potential US strike on the jihadist army in Iraq, comes a day after President Barack Obama indicated the use of air strikes in opposition to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said: "American naval presence in the Arabian Gulf continues to support our longstanding commitments to the security and stability of the region."
Two other vessels, namely the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun, will accompany the aircraft carrier during the operation.
The US has also boosted its surveillance assistance to Iraq, by carrying out drone flights on the order of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in addition to preparing a range of options for Obama to consider, including performing air strikes.
The 103,000t warship, together with its air wing, was deployed in the Mediterranean in the wake of Russia’s incursion of Ukraine earlier this year.
Powered by two nuclear reactors, the aircraft carrier can accommodate a crew of approximately 6,000, an air wing comprising fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft, and sophisticated anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles.
Image: US Navy’s aircraft carrier USS George H W Bush (CVN 77). Photo: courtesy of US Navy / photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Abe McNatt.