The aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and members of its strike group are heading toward the waters off Yemen to conduct maritime security operations, a 5th Fleet spokesman said Monday, though unnamed officials are contradicting that statement.
The TR, along with cruiser Normandy, passed through the Roosevelt and the guided missile cruiser crossed the Straitght of Hormuz on Sunday to joined up with U.S. maritime security forces in the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, said Cmdr. Kevin Stephens.
"Theodore Roosevelt is going to support the other ships that are operating in the area," he said, helping to maintain open sea lanes amid the Yemen conflict.
An unnamed Pentagon official told USA Today that the TRRoosevelt is tracking a convoy of Iranian vessels headed to the Gulf of Aden and will be prepared to block them from delivering arms to the Houthi rebels. However, Stevens said none of the U.S. vessels have been tasked to intercept the Iranian vessels as of Monday.
"We're conducting operations under normal authorities to conduct maritime security operations," Stephens added. "Not aiming at any specific nation."
The carrier, with nine embarked squadrons, and cruiser met up with about half a dozen U.S. ships already operating in the area, including the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima and its ready group, the amphibious transport dock New York, the dock landing Fort McHenry,; the mine countermeasures ships Dextrous and Sentry, and the destroyers Forrest Sherman and Winston Churchill, members of TR's Roosevelt's carrier strike group.
The Navy has recently increased its presence in the region as Houthi rebels continue to fight against the government in that country, according to a Navy release Monday.
"This is in response to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen," Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters Monday. "They are not going to intercept Iranian ships."
The TRRoosevelt and its strike group just recently entered 5th Fleet as part of an eight-month deployment.
The TR CSG brings deadly new capabilitieswith the first deployment for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, and extensive upgrades to the Normandy that enable the strike group to fire at targets with longer range missiles.
Staff writer Andrew Tilghman contributed to this report.