US aircraft carrier remains outside of Persian Gulf

MNA – A US aircraft carrier, which the White House said would rapidly deploy to the Mideast over the heightened tensions with Iran, remains outside of the Persian Gulf, to avoid any confrontation with the Iranian forces.

Officers aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln repeatedly told The Associated Press on Monday they would state outside of the strategic Persian Gulf waters, claiming that the US navy seeks to avoid escalation.

The Lincoln on Monday was some 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the eastern coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, the Associated Press cited officers aboard the carrier. It would still need to pass through the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz before reaching the Persian Gulf.

“You don’t want to inadvertently escalate something,” Captain Putnam Browne, the commanding officer of the Lincoln, said.

When asked about why the Lincoln hadn’t entered the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, Rear Admiral John Wade, the commander of the carrier strike group, only said the US forces could “conduct my mission wherever and whenever needed.”

He declined to discuss any specifics about that mission, though he claimed Iran had presented “credible threats” to the region.

Tensions have been running high between Tehran and Washington since late April, when Washington moved to cut Iran’s oil exports to “zero” and began to build up its military presence in the Middle East.

The US said on May 5 that it was sending military reinforcements, including the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers, and a battery of patriot missiles, to the Middle East, citing alleged and unspecified “threats” from Iran.

That announcement prompted global concerns that the US may be after waging war on Iran.

Tehran has downplayed Washington’s belligerent rhetoric and moves, saying all American ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz have so far remained answerable to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as the force in charge of security in the strategic waterway.

Iran has said it will not initiate any conflict, but will firmly defend the country against any act of aggression.