U.S. Fifth Fleet: Gulf carrier deployment "routine"

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 10, 2012 11:49 AM
U.S. Fifth Fleet: Gulf carrier deployment "routine"

DUBAI (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet said on Tuesday the arrival of a second aircraft carrier last week to an area including the Gulf was part of a "routine, scheduled" deployment, after reports it was in response to heightened tension with Iran.

Iran spooked oil markets in late December when it threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, where a fifth of global oil exports passes, if there were any military strikes against the country or its nuclear facilities.

The dispatch of the USS Enterprise to the Fleet's area of operations was scheduled and routine, a spokeswoman said in response to queries about the arrival of the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier alongside another carrier in the area which includes the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf.

"The USS Enterprise/Enterprise Strike Group is on routine, scheduled deployment to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility," Commander Amy Derrick-Frost said.

"(It) does not indicate any change to our normal deployments and standard maritime operations... A two-carrier presence is not unusual and is very routine," she said.

The Fifth Fleet said late last year it would not allow any disruption of ship traffic through the Strait.

The presence of the USS Enterprise coincides with exercises organized by Bahrain's air force this week including 100 jet fighters from countries including Iran's Arab neighbors.

The United States said last month oil stocks, including emergency reserves, were sufficient to go ahead with a policy of pressuring Tehran over its nuclear program by threatening sanctions on countries conducting oil-related transactions with Iran's central bank.

(Reporting and writing by Joseph Logan, additional reporting by Daniel Fineren; editing by James Jukwey)