As USS Theodore Roosevelt exits, US has no carriers in Persian Gulf
By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 9, 2015
MANAMA, Bahrain — The USS Theodore Roosevelt exited the Persian Gulf on Friday, a Navy spokesman said, marking the first time since 2007 the U.S. hasn’t had an aircraft carrier deployed there.
The scheduled gap of carrier presence comes during a time of increased tensions in the region, including Russian military involvement in Syria, ongoing fighting in Iraq and a civil war in Yemen.
The next aircraft carrier isn’t expected to arrive in the Gulf until this winter.
The Navy believes the gap is necessary after years of increased demand for carrier strike groups and extended deployments that have worn down the force, Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a Navy spokesman, said Thursday. He said maintenance delays due to sequestration added to the problem.
“We have to get to a point where we can sustain the pace without breaking our force,” Hawkins said.
Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said the command constantly reviews force allocation and has been preparing for the carrier gap for some time.
“Together with the other services and coalition partners, we are confident we have the necessary combat power to meet theater security commitments and effectively prosecute the ongoing conflict against ISIL,” McConnaughey said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State group, which controls vast swaths of Iraq and Syria.
Some analysts and politicians have criticized the carrier gap as placing limits on military options.
The Theodore Roosevelt had been deployed to the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility since April.
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt transits the Persian Gulf, on Oct. 2, 2015.The aircraft carrier exited the Persian Gulf Friday, Oct. 9, marking the first time since 2007 that the U.S. hasn't had an aircraft carrier deployed to the Persian Gulf, a Navy spokesman said.