FIRST ON CNN: U.S. considering whether to extend stay of aircraft carriers in waters around Iran
The USS Abraham Lincoln, left, is one of two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region.
July 12th, 2012
01:52 AM ET

FIRST ON CNN: U.S. considering whether to extend stay of aircraft carriers in waters around Iran

By Mike Mount

The U.S. is deciding whether to keep two aircraft carriers in the waters around Iran through the end of the year in a move that risks inflaming tensions with the regime, according to U.S. officials.

The decision entails extending the mandate to maintain an extra carrier in the region by three months, according to U.S. officials.

A 2010 directive by then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates added an additional carrier to the Persian Gulf region where the U.S. typically has kept only one carrier while not in actual full combat operations.

The directive is set to expire in September of this year, but the officials said the White House, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and top Navy officials are mulling over whether to extend the presence at a time when Iran continues its saber rattling with threats to close the main oil tanker route out of the Arabian Gulf at the Strait of Hormuz as well as its continued insistence to pursue a nuclear program.

The officials, who could not be named because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the discussions, said one of the hang-ups in the decision-making process is the justification for keeping an extra carrier in that region.

The 2010 Gates order to put the additional aircraft carrier presence in the Arabian Sea around Iran was to support the Afghanistan troop surge and troop draw-down in Iraq.

With U.S. troops now out of Iraq and a little more than two years before the final U.S. troops leave Afghanistan amid high tensions with Iran, a more diplomatic reason to keep two carriers might be needed.

Another reason in the decision-making process is how the Navy will balance needs for a carrier in other parts of the world, the officials said.

The service would never have a problem continuing to provide an additional carrier, the officials said, but it takes a good deal of planning to build the proper scheduling and timing in to move around the ships and their strike teams, the supporting ships.

With the Department of Defense announcing its new focus on the Asia-Pacific region and the Navy saying it will be moving 60% of its ships into the Pacific, Navy planners are stretching their minds around planning options for the additional stay in what the military calls the Central Command region that covers the Arabian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

The officials did not have a timetable when a decision would be made.

The Navy has been rotating aircraft carriers in and out of the Arabian Gulf, generally keeping one in the Gulf and the other carrier close by in the North Arabian Sea.

Currently, the U.S. Navy has the USS Enterprise and the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf region. Pentagon officials have also said the USS Ponce, a new breed of command ship capable of basing Navy special operations forces, and four mine sweepers are in the Persian Gulf.

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Filed under: FIRST ON CNN/EXCLUSIVE • Iran • Middle East • Military • Navy
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Talking Monkey

    We better be careful there cuz Iran does have submarines something Iraq did not, the soviet produced Kilo's are the most dangerous as they are capable of sinking the carriers if they get in range 2 fire their torpedo's. If the pentagon sends a task force with hunter killer subs to the area then there's a possibility of a strike on Iran happening very soon.

    July 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Reply
  2. Name*hst73

    Time to get it on... No boots on the ground. Air and sea will do the trick. Iran is a paper tiger. They know it, we know it, enough with the war of words. Destroy their nuclear capabilities in their entirety. Pull the dang trigger.

    July 12, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Reply
    • Peter

      Yeah, the US military has had that illusion since before WW2. Being continuously proved wrong for almost 70 years has done nothing to cure them of it.

      July 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      No wonder this country's in such trouble with you warmongering idiots voting every four years, Name*hst73. We need to rid ourselves of this kind of ignorance such as you displayed above. There is an adage saying that ignorance is bliss, but I strongly disagree!!!

      July 13, 2012 at 1:38 am | Reply
      • Name*hst73

        You, peace princess, are the idiot. Iran if left unchecked will develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them globally. Educate yourself on exactly who we are discussing. Simply google and read just a few of the threats the mullahs and that crazy little president of theirs have spewed in juat the last two years. Stay on the sideline with you picket sign for peace and let the realists deal with these whack jobs.

        July 13, 2012 at 10:18 am |
      • Greg

        Iran sponsors terrorism, aids Syria and north Korea and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. You must be brain dead

        July 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  3. mohamad

    why US wanna play with fire? if war has started then we must blame america not iran

    July 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Reply
    • pirat

      your user says it all...

      July 12, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Reply
  4. 2 Bob

    USS Ponce
    Who was the genius who named that one!
    (for those Yanks who don't know it "ponce" is a slang term for a pimp or effeminate person).

    July 12, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Reply
    • gsnlou

      It was named after a person's last name whom the US Navy deemed significant.

      July 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  5. Mk8btr

    Ahem... The USS Enterprise was gonna get decommissioned , now it's the sitting duck for a false flag operation to give the US an excuse to attack Iran. October sounds like the right time to do it, with elections around the corner. Israeli Subs are perfect to pull it off and blame it on Iran... Anyway, it's a good thing to put a stop to Iran's nuclear ambitions. It's not the military nuclear threat that worries me, it's the vision of a nuclear disaster in the region due to the plants being run by mobs of Homer Simpsons.

    July 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  6. ade

    wow i can see now where the waste of american tax payers money goes to. either the american people are dumb or dont give a hoot because what a complete waste of time and money.

    July 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  7. Paul Martin expat Welsh foreign correspondent

    Americ has NO choice now.....when dealing with the iranian SNAKE-LIKE regime but to provoke their wrath so America can decapitate the monster's head before it expands and causes further grief to the free World......hey that's us folks ! GO AMERICA.....fear NOT the wrath of imbeciles and morons !

    July 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Reply
    • Quigley

      Such is to be expected from someone like you with your obvious lack of intelligence, Paul. This "Go America, Go!" bit is causing all the trouble as we Americans have no business sending any battleships to that part of the world. We need to adopt a laissez-faire foreign policy as soon as possible!

      July 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Reply
      • Robert

        I believe that your sarcasm detector is broken.

        July 12, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • trex

      ......CUE flag waving and get that guy dressed as G Wash out there..................

      July 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  8. jedi61

    The "wrath" of Iran? The same was said of the 5th largest army in the world back in 1990. Ooooh, the Iraqis are battle hardened. Ooooh, the Iraqis are seasoned warriors. Ooooh, the US hasn't fought a war since Vietnam,(Panama and Grenada excluded). Lest we forget who the Iraqis had fought a war against. The Iranians.

    July 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Reply
  9. Zoglet

    More US middle east destablisation and fearmongering.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  10. Tom

    Its wiser to go back home!!!!

    July 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  11. xfiler93

    The US military is not scared of Iran. if they want it, bring it. The Stone age will be in their future, dam*ed camel thumpers.

    July 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Reply
    • Rick

      People like you are why we are in economic + political disaster.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Reply
      • Fear? Fact!

        People like YOU are the reason this country will slip into decline. Debt? HA! Really? Is that what you fear?

        July 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  12. bribarian

    U.S. military belongs entirely to israel.

    July 12, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Reply
  13. KBR

    The ONLY way we could make the Iranian government happy is to let them make Uncle Sugar an Iranian state.

    July 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Reply
    • samuel

      What a game we play ! The decision has been AirWING has been told they are not going on cruise until December instead of July. They have stood down. The reason was that the two Carrier in the gulf will be cut back and watch ! if changes...then they can be on spot by Dec. Figure Sept to Dec is a small window. And in Dec if the tension is still low the Carrier will just replace the one on station....What a media game w play....they feed us what they want.

      I know this for facts, after 30 years in the Navy.

      Good job...USN

      July 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  14. Jannani

    CNN: Where is Arabian Gulf? CNN is a Zionist propaganda machine. Shame CNN.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  15. OffTheWorldPolitics

    The United States needs to handle Iran similar to how the Russians handled Grozny. Nation building in Iran is not an option during these harsh economic times. Since the Iranian government controls the media, warn the populous what is about to occur. Let the people know that their government is putting their lives in jeopardy. Give them ample time to flee, or take control of the government. The world is united against a nuclear Iran, the Iranian people need to come to terms with their government. They need to take take responsibility.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  16. Timothy

    Arabian Gulf? Where is that?

    July 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • Misho

      Brush up on you geography; check a map..................

      July 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Reply
      • quinterius

        What maps? All legitimate maps show Persian Gulf dummy.

        July 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
      • Misho

        Then may be you should brush up on your manners.....

        Oh, I forgot; this is how you were raised.

        July 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
      • Timothy

        I can't find it...

        July 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  17. quinterius

    Nobody is scared of these behemoths. People should read the Pentagon report that came out yesterday about the increased accuracy and effectiveness of Iranian missiles. Bloomberg BusinessWeek had an article about it. These aircraft carriers are sitting ducks for Iranian missiles. Iran is not crazy and is not going to try anything stupid. So, all we do is spend enormous sums of money supporting these monstrosities thousands of miles away.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      Google search "Phalanx CIWS"

      our carriers are safe from missiles.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Reply
      • quinterius

        CNN refused to print my response. So, I guess we have to toe the line.

        July 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
      • fredcanuck

        I hope you are right... but I get the feeling that carriers may be a weapons system designed to fight the LAST war (battleships were the great weapons of ww1.

        July 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
      • fredthehopple

        I hope you are right... but I get the feeling that carriers may be a weapons system designed to fight the LAST war (Battleships were the great navy weapons of ww1, but when deployed in ww2, they were nearly insignificant. Carriers became the masters of the seas in WW2).

        July 12, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
      • nabun

        Yes because we all know all weapons systems are perfect and there is no such thing as murphy's law.

        July 13, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • trex

      ........and .....WHAT Iranian missle sunk an aircraft carrier?.........................Just how long would Iran burn?

      July 12, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Reply
      • quinterius

        No, how long before the US will call uncle? The sinking of an American aircraft carrier will be a monumental insult to American pride, showing that the time for gunboat diplomacy is past. If on the other hand, the US goes on a mad assault on Iran then all bets are off. All US interests in the entire world will be targeted.

        It is time to end all this stupid talk about war. There is absolutely no reason for a war between the US and Iran. Incompetent Obama needs to stop listening to the lunatics in Israel. But, nothing is going to happen until the presidential elections.

        July 12, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
      • commonsensefp

        Anyone suggesting that Iran's missiles are currently capable of sinking a US aircraft carrier has frankly no business commenting on this issue. Not to fear, as 99% of the other comments on this story indicate you are not alone in falling into this class.

        July 13, 2012 at 8:01 am |
      • quinterius

        commonsensefp: Do you remember what the Exocet missile did to the British warship in the Falkland war? The Chinese Silkwork is even better and Iran can launch hundreds of missiles and torpedoes at US ships.

        July 15, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • NN

      Exactly, aircraft carriers are a holdover from the WW II era when military aircraft had limited range and such things as forward airbases were non-existent. In the modern world they are an anachronism and a very expensive liability. They typify the idiot mentality of the military and the greed of industry. But , hey, someone needs to keep all the useless people good for nothing else employed. It might as well be the American taxpayer.

      July 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  18. George Patton

    Knowing the mindset of the right-wing thugs in Washington, the U.S. will doubtlessly maintain it's fleet in the Persian Gulf in full force. In fact, the only country the U.S. military left was Vietnam and that's only because we failed to win there!!!

    July 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  19. Bangash

    Every one in the world is agree on one point that America is matchless in weapon business, having dumped deadly weapons on earth and oceans and in the name of star wars, taking same deaths to the sky. Is America has born to kill and destroy human civilization on earth?

    July 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Reply
    • Willie12345

      Sadly enough Bangash, the answer to your question above seems to be an unequivocal yes! This will always be the case as long as the American people keep on electing the wrong people into office!

      July 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Reply
      • rex edie

        it doesnt matter who we elect anymore... the country has been taken over by the war manufactures and contractors who use the pentagon to justify our continued warring. otherwise will they stay in business. Eisenhower said it right when he gave his farewell speech in 1961. "if the military industrial complex ever gains control of the U.S. government..we will never again see peace in our lifetime." If you manufacture weapons of have to manufacture reasons to use them. they are slowly killing our government and country as well.

        July 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Jannani

      America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Reply
      • bigmart

        You would think they would be good at it by now. Instead of the continued botched jobs they do. And its no fault of the troops on the ground either its the arm chair QBs in Washington

        July 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • MDC58

      I'm glad the USA is defending the free world and its values. Nazism and communism has been defeated, now it's time to tackle the greatest danger to humanity: radical Islam.

      July 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Reply
      • nabun

        And radical capitalism

        July 13, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • NN

      You can't pin that entirely on the US. Since the US lacks the resources to develop many high performance critical weapons systems components, more and more are being supplied by high tech industry in Europe and Asia.

      July 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  20. saeed

    usa is lucky we live in the nuclear age and a war cannot happend or else china and russia would kill 10 of millions of usa british and european soldiers. if russia drops one bomb it will be game over u would all be turned into chalc powder charcoal dust it would burne the entire usa and britain of the surface if the earth not only the citys the forests the ozon layer the athmosphere serious u people cannot even imagine the power of a soviet style 20 megaton war head only the shockwave would level half of britain and dont even forget the 50 kilometer fire ball that comes after.

    July 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Reply
    • trex

      ........NOTHING ALIVE NOW...............WOULD SURVIVE...................ANYWHERE....................

      July 12, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Reply
  21. Some Question?

    Like this is even a question? as long as American troops are in harms way, they will always need and have the Navy to provide support. Iran may be led by dingbats, but even a dingbat fears.

    July 12, 2012 at 11:43 am | Reply
    • NN

      Get real, the Navy does not have a particularly good track record of supporting troops on the ground in combat.

      July 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  22. Simon

    The madness the U.S Results to for Israel is unbelievable, which provides absolutely no Geo-Political benefits what so ever. Israel has been a curse to the U.S and all of Mankind since its creation in 1948. But then again the Israeli Lobby are running things in the American, the electoral process means nothing, the Federal Reserve being an example, Democracy is just a lie.

    July 12, 2012 at 10:21 am | Reply
    • MidEast Mad man

      Israel is blessed by God (the True one). All those that bless them shall be blessed. All those that curse them shall be cursed. Sorry lose.

      July 12, 2012 at 10:45 am | Reply
      • Big Moo

        Why bother arguing with him. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force him to drink.

        July 12, 2012 at 11:06 am |
      • Jim

        Simon is probably not such a bad guy. A lot of us are tired of the Israelis, their whining politicians, their attempts to influence our politics, and of course their insatiable greed for American money. Even if there were a god who gave them other peoples land and homes, he probably would have advised them not to be such jerks.

        July 12, 2012 at 11:52 am |
      • mideast

        you are talking nonsense..If god was ever with you ..then shoudl be able to tell what shall happen tomorrow..God is never with you..If it was..God would have saved you from hitler..So In reality God exists..and god is present for all..God is present for all who love god..YOu dont need to be israli to love god...or belive god..

        July 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
      • Jim

        Whatever on the God thing, but it would be great not to have the Isrealis hanging around whining and cadging money. Very bad mistake to ever get mixed up with the little fellow.

        July 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
      • StanCalif

        You honestly believe this? Islam believes "they" are the blessed ones! This is what creates wars!!!
        You just can't be satisfied no matter what! Ever heard the phrase "Live and let live"?

        July 13, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Islamisbad

      What is even more amazing is how Muslims are so taken by Jews. If the Jews built a city on the moon; Muslims would claim that it was theirs because they were there first.

      July 12, 2012 at 11:40 am | Reply
      • Misho

        Go read a history book before talking nonsense!

        July 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • rex edie

      true that !!!!

      July 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
      • rex edie

        my true that...was meant for Simon....not islamisbad....

        July 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  23. randale

    shift the carriers into pacific....

    July 12, 2012 at 10:11 am | Reply
    • commonsensefp

      It took a while but I finally found a logical comment buried in the countless uninformed analyses(Iranian missiles can sink U.S. aircraft carrier??? Really everybody???) merely spouting conspiratorial paranoia. @Randale You fine sir, are a gentleman and a scholar and a damn fine (I presume) American.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:56 am | Reply
  24. GOPisGreedOverPeople

    The GOP solution: Turn all Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Unemployed, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Employed, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military.

    July 12, 2012 at 9:27 am | Reply
  25. Carm

    Why can't us freaks & norms just get along?

    July 12, 2012 at 9:08 am | Reply
    • deano

      Maybe because it's too hard to tell a difference anymore.Freaky is normal and normal is just too darn freaky...

      July 12, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Reply
      • gsnlou


        July 12, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  26. Julian Assange

    It completely and miserably failed to scare the Iranians, it is a waste of taxpayers money and will achieve nothing except embarassing the beligerent posture of America before an incrisingly aware world opinion. '
    Call it back home NOW!

    July 12, 2012 at 8:57 am | Reply
    • Jeff

      Comments like this are quite's like people trying to claim the death penalty isn't a deterrent. Tell me, just how do you know that the carrier's presence didn't stop the Iranians from doing something or taking a different posture? Just as no one can really quantify how many crimes didn't happen because people didn't think that it was worth receiving the death penalty for. It is far more likely that both were a deterrent than not....unless of course you have some zombies floating in water telling you of yet to happen events..aka The Minority Report.

      July 12, 2012 at 9:12 am | Reply
  27. Mr Mister

    Very confusing. Sometimes it is the Persian Gulf. Sometimes it is the Arabian Gulf. ???????

    July 12, 2012 at 8:18 am | Reply
    • Cocopuf

      ... the Arabian Gulf is much more appropriate of a name considering the surroundings there. It should be changed accordingly.

      July 12, 2012 at 9:51 am | Reply
      • Houman

        So you are saying that the media should be allowed to rewrite history and change the name to please the arabs?

        July 12, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Houman

      Mr Mister, I noticed that too. Maybe it is a new trend by this writer or CNN to please both sides in the naming conflict of Persian gulf?

      July 12, 2012 at 11:30 am | Reply
  28. Lol

    It's Persian Gulf not Arabian Gulf, you ignorant Mike Dismount.

    July 12, 2012 at 7:51 am | Reply
    • Hahahahahahahahahaha

      How about "Towel Head Gulf"? Hahahahahahahahahahahhaa

      July 12, 2012 at 8:59 am | Reply
      • Raghead

        I prefer my name

        July 12, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Julian Assange

      The refusal to recognise the Persian Gulf accordingly is a childish American strategy that has proved irrelevant at all levels. The insistence in pursuing such a stuppid posture only proves the brain damage status of the writer of this article!

      July 12, 2012 at 8:59 am | Reply
      • Robert

        It's not an American dispute. It's a dispute between the Arab nations and Iran. There is no American meddling in the name of that body of water. Grow up, "Julian".

        July 12, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • adonison

      Why should you answer a decently worded question with such pleasant vocabulary? Doesthat speak of your standard of brought up? Respect open air discussions.

      July 12, 2012 at 9:04 am | Reply
      • Houman

        I agree with Robert as far as saying it is not an American dispute. It is a political issue though and politicians have referred to the Persian gulf as Arabian gulf to please the arab nations. That is to be expected in politics but not from someone writing for CNN as their job is to report and not to change facts. I am Persian myself so I am sure you can guess which name I use.

        July 12, 2012 at 11:38 am |
      • Misho

        Well said!

        July 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  29. j. von hettlingen

    As the USS Ponce operates from international waters, it's no longer dependant on the goodwill of allies and hosts, who can veto American missions initiated from bases on their territory. A smart solution to the ever volatile and fluid situation that we see in the Middle East.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:37 am | Reply

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