PENTAGON - The United States will have two aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea to support European interests and operations against Islamic State militants.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower crossed Wednesday into Atlantic waters under U.S. European Command on its way to the Mediterranean, while the USS Harry S. Truman remains in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, where it arrived last week, according to Navy Lieutenant Loren Terry.
U.S. defense officials erroneously reported Wednesday that the Eisenhower had already reached the Mediterranean.
The Eisenhower will be arriving in the western Mediterranean in the next three days, a U.S. navy official told VOA Thursday.
The Truman and the Eisenhower will overlap territorial responsibilities for about three weeks before the Truman heads back to the United States, said Pentagon spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza.
The Eisenhower is deploying to the Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is responsible for naval forces in the Middle East.
A U.S. defense official told VOA the Eisenhower would be supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition’s operation to defeat IS in Iraq and Syria, but it is unclear whether the Eisenhower would conduct anti-IS strikes from a position in the Mediterranean or from the Persian Gulf.
The strengthened U.S. military presence in the Mediterranean could increase tensions with Russia, which a U.S. defense official said is also operating warships in the Mediterranean.
The Eisenhower will be visiting various Italian ports in the coming days, Baldanza said.