The guided-missile destroyer Stout departs Naval Station Norfolk on Aug. 18. (MCC Karen E. Cozza/Navy)
The destroyer Stout is en route to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, marking the fifth destroyer to be positioned near Syria, a defense official tells Navy Times.
It’s unclear how long five destroyers would be in the area, but the official said all are expected to remain “for the time being.”
The Stout is expected to arrive in the eastern Med later today, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The other destroyers in the eastern Med include the Mahan, Barry, Gravely and Ramage. The Ramage arrived there late last week and was initially tapped to replace Mahan. The Stout was slated to replace Barry, the official said. Typically, the Navy has been operating with three destroyers in the Med, but top leaders deemed it prudent to keep all five in place as the U.S. weighs an attack on Syria.
The Navy has also beefed up its presence in the Persian Gulf region, increasing the number of aircraft carriers from one to two.
The Harry S. Truman has arrived in the Arabian Sea and was scheduled to take the place of the Nimitz, which was supposed to head home. The Navy has ordered the Nimitz, which is in the Indian Ocean, to stay there for now.
U.S. officials describe the decision as prudent planning and say it doesn’t suggest the carrier would play a role in any possible strikes in Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss ship movements publicly.
The U.S. had kept two carriers in the region, but budget cuts in February forced officials to cut that to one.