Austin Directs US Nuclear Aircraft Carrier Truman Stay in Mediterranean to Reassure Allies
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States is retaining a nuclear aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean instead of sending it on to the Middle East in order to reassure allies as tensions remain high over Ukraine, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, according to a US Navy report on Tuesday.
A US defense official confirmed in a statement to Sputnik that the USS Harry S Truman and its battle group will remain in the Mediterranean Sea on orders from Austin.
"The Secretary of Defense has directed USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HST CSG) to remain in the EUCOM [European Command] area of operations instead of transiting to the CENTCOM [Central Command] area of operations as originally scheduled," the defense official said on Tuesday. "HST CSG schedule change reflects the need for a persistent presence in Europe, and is necessary to reassure our allies and partners of our commitment to collective defense."
The Truman and its escorts are now operating in the Ionian Sea between Greece and Italy rather than sailing through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea to support US Central Command (CENTCOM), the semi-official US Naval Institute (USNI) News reported, citing defense sources.
Austin personally approved the change in plans for the carrier group in order to signal to European allies the continuing US commitment to regional security, the report added.
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