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Friday, July 13, 2007

USS Enterprise joins two other U.S. carrier groups in Persian Gulf

ABU DHABI The U.S. Navy has deployed its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS Enterprise the longest naval vessel in the world and which carries 66 aircraft for Gulf operations. Officials said this marked the second deployment of the Enterprise in the Gulf in 14 months.

The Enterprise, which left the Gulf in November 2006, is to join the USS John C. Stennis and USS Nimitz carrier strike groups. Officials said the return of the Enterprise would enable rotation of the other two carrier strike groups in the region.

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"The carrier and her escorts will assert their right to operate throughout the region," the navy said. "These ships can operate together as one single strike force or dispersed to execute multiple missions simultaneously."

The carrier strike groups have been operating near the Iranian coast. In June, the navy conducted a major exercise in the Straits of Hormuz, the passage for 30 percent of global oil shipments, Middle East Newsline reported.

Gulf Cooperation Council states have been alarmed by the Iranian threat. Iran has occupied three islands claimed by the United Arab Emirates. An Iranian daily has asserted that Bahrain, host to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, was part of Iran.

"Regular deployments of the strike groups to the Middle East are not designed to provoke any of the Gulf countries," the navy said.

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