|A US CH-43 helicopter lands on the USS Bataan
© AFP/File Patrick Baz
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States is deploying additional warships to the Mediterranean to support possible United Nations-approved military action in Libya, the US Navy said Friday.
The USS Bataan, a helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ship, and two other vessels were deployed ahead of schedule, the navy said after the UN Security Council approved action to stop Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s offensive against rebels.
The Bataan will relieve the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and the transport docking ship USS Ponce, which have been in the Mediterranean for several weeks.
The Bataan has a fleet of helicopters and medical facilities that can be used to treat injured military forces or for humanitarian missions. The ship has six operating rooms and hospital facilities for up to 600 patients.
It is scheduled to depart from the state of Virginia on Wednesday along with the Mesa Verde, a transport dock ship, and the USS Whidbey Island, a dock landing ship.
The ships will carry hundreds of US Marines, a team of surgeons and a helicopter sea combat squadron, the Navy said.
The UN Security Council on Thursday voted to permit “all necessary measures” to establish a no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire on Kadhafi’s military.
The US also has the USS Barry and the USS Stout, both destroyers with missile-launching capabilities, in the Mediterranean.
The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, with its 80 jets and helicopters, had been in the Red Sea with its escort ships in recent days, but is now in the Arabian Sea, a US defense official told AFP.
On Friday, US President Barack Obama warned of military action if Kadhafi refused to honor the UN resolution, saying world powers are concerned the Libyan leader would commit atrocities.
Obama said he would deploy US forces to support a no-fly zone against Libya, but left uncertain the full scope of American military involvement in any action.
He made clear, however, that no US ground troops would be deployed in Libya and that US action would be based on the need to protect civilians.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license