- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2015

A U.S. carrier battlegroup is repositioning to the Arabian sea in response to a deteriorating security situation in Yemen, but Pentagon officials denied reports that the move is designed to intercept Iranian ships.

“Ships are repositioning to conduct maritime security operations, they are not going to intercept Iranian ships,” Col. Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman, said.

The Associated Press sent a breaking news alert reporting the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen to join other American ships prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen.

The carrier, as well as the cruiser USS Normandy, transited the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday night and are now conducting operations in the Arabian Sea, Col. Warren said.

When asked specifically about the reason for the move, Col. Warren told reporters that “the security situation in Aden is such that the combatant commander wanted his carrier over there.”

The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea amid reports that a convoy of Iranian ships may be headed toward Yemen to arm the Houthis.

The Houthis are battling government-backed fighters in an effort to take control of the country.

There are about nine U.S. ships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.

“The purpose of these operations is to ensure the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe,” the Navy said in a statement. “The United States remains committed to its regional partners and to maintaining security in the maritime environment.”

This article is based in part on wire reports.  

 

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