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The USS Ronald Reagan, the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, will soon be the forward-deployed carrier in the Pacific while the USS Kitty Hawk undergoes maintenance, a Navy official said on Friday.

The Navy Times first reported Friday that the Reagan would get under way from its home port of San Diego within a few weeks to fill in for the aging Kitty Hawk.

The Reagan is expected to be forward-deployed in the Pacific for about six months as part of a reshuffling of carrier deployments in the wake of developments in the Middle East and Africa, the Navy official said.

Originally, the USS John C. Stennis was supposed to substitute for the Kitty Hawk, but President Bush ordered the Stennis to the U.S. Central Command theater of operations after the carrier already in the region was dispatched to the Horn of Africa.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is currently off the east coast of Africa, assisting in U.S. efforts to make sure al-Qaida suspects do not flee Somalia ahead of Ethiopian and Somali transitional government forces.

The Eisenhower had been providing air support for coalition operations in Afghanistan before being called away to Africa.

U.S. officials plan on having the Stennis in CENTCOM area of operations for “a period of months,” a senior military official said on Thursday.


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