For most recent update, click category “USS Ronald Reagan” in the far right hand column.
NEWSWEEK has learned that a third carrier will likely follow.
This can only refer to the USS Ronald Reagan.
The official line given to the press about the mission of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which departed San Diego on January 27, is that the ship was sent to the “Western Pacific” to relieve the carrier USS Kitty Hawk, which is undergoing repairs.
The Reagan is being deployed while the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk undergoes scheduled maintenance in Yokosuka, Japan, according to a public affairs officer with Commander Naval Air Forces.
However, the navy also said that
the Ronald Reagan carrier strike group “was deployed under the navy’s Fleet Response Plan (FRP), which provides the United States with the ability to respond to any global commitment with flexible and sustainable forces and the ability to respond to a range of situations at short notice.”
See this for a discussion of what a surge is.
And, in fact, on January 19, the NBC affiliate in San Diego reported:
San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan will leave its home port in a few weeks for a mission related to President George W. Bush’s plan to send a surge of new troops to Iraq, sources told NBC 7/39.
Furthermore, the story about the repairs to the Kitty Hawk doesn’t seem to hold water.
What is a bit unusual here is that the Kitty Hawk’s three-month maintenance work is being undertaken by the crew, not external contractors, with the ship retaining the ability to deploy at short notice if need be. Furthermore, this maintenance started on 8 January, whereas the Ronald Reagan carrier battle-group will not even arrive in the area until mid-February. This does not seem to fit with standing in for the Kitty Hawk and does mean that another carrier battle-group could actually be deployed to the Gulf at short notice. Moreover, this is a strike group that has a crew experienced in recent operations in the Gulf.
The Stars and Stripes reported on Feb 6:
The Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, will stop at the southern port of Sasebo from Feb. 24 to Feb. 28 …
Now, the Gulf is about ten days sail from Sasebo. Let’s assume that they make some intermediate stop just to cloak their objective just a little. I don’t know where, but let’s say it takes them two weeks to get to the Gulf. That is mid March. The stories I have heard indicate that this attack is gonna happen in April. So that fits.
Watch and see. Call your congress people.