Saturday, February 19, 2011

US carrier transits Suez Canal: navy

(AFP)
2/17/2011

WASHINGTON — The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise has transited the Suez Canal on its way to the Gulf, the US Navy said Wednesday, raising the US military presence in a region buffeted by political unrest.

Rear Admiral Terry Craft, commander of the naval strike group, said the carrier's passage through the canal Tuesday was routine and "demonstrates the ongoing stability of this important waterway."

It came less than a week after Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak was swept from power in a wave of mass protests that continues to rock other autocratic states in the region, including Bahrain, headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet.

Thousands of protesters turned out in the pro-western kingdom of Bahrain on Wednesday chanting for regime change.

Traveling with the Enterprise were the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and the USNS Arctic, a combat support ship.

The navy said the Enterprise would conduct "maritime security operations" and support US-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A carrier group led by the USS Carl Vinson also was in Fifth Fleet's area of operations on Wednesday, in the Arabian Sea, according to the Vinson's website.

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