In a statement, the Navy said the Pentagon approval was relayed on March
15. The Fifth Fleet, based in Manama, was said to contain up to 3,000
"This announcement aligns with the U.S. Department of State Travel
Warning permitting the authorized departure of U.S. Embassy Manama eligible
family members issued late March 14 and will remain in effect until the
Department of State terminates the authorized departure," the Navy said.
The statement came amid reports by Western diplomats that many or most
of the U.S. Navy personnel have already left Bahrain this month. The diplomats
said the staffers left for Oman as part of an exercise in the Gulf region.
"Operations at U.S. Fifth Fleet and NSA Bahrain remain normal, and U.S.
service members and family members are not being evacuated," the Navy said.
Britain, a key partner in U.S. security efforts in the Gulf, has also
joined in the Western evacuation of Bahrain. The British Foreign Office has
told the estimated 5,000 nationals in Bahrain to begin arriving at the
international airport in Manama on March 17.
So far, neither the Pentagon nor the U.S. Navy has reported attacks on
American personnel in Bahrain. The Shi'ite protest campaign has included
demonstrations in front of the U.S. embassy in Manama.
"The demonstrations have not been directed at the U.S. Navy or U.S.
personnel, and there have been no reports of injuries to U.S. citizens," the
Navy said. "The authorized departure is designed to facilitate the departure
of those families who choose to depart Bahrain."