The USS Abraham Lincoln sails south in the Suez Canal near Ismailia, Thursday, May 9, 2019. (Photo by AP)

‘US aircraft carrier dispatched to Middle East over Iran keeps off Persian Gulf’

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, which the United States rapidly dispatched to the Middle East amid tensions with Iran, has stayed outside of the strategic Persian Gulf waters, with its commander saying that the US Navy is seeking to avoid escalations.

The Lincoln on Monday was some 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the eastern coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea. It would still need to pass through the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz before reaching the Persian Gulf.

“You don’t want to inadvertently escalate something,” Capt. Putnam Browne, the commanding officer of the Lincoln, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

When asked about why the Lincoln had not entered the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, Rear Adm. John Wade, the commander of the carrier strike group, suggested that his forces could “conduct my mission wherever and whenever needed.”

He declined to discuss any specifics about that mission, though he claimed Iran had presented “credible threats” to the region.

Capt. William Reed, the commander of the carrier’s air wing, laughed off any notion that the situation was stressful. “It’s just another day at the office,” he said.

Capt. Chris Follin, the commodore of the destroyer strike group traveling with the Lincoln, did not express any concern, either.

“I wouldn’t want to go against that,” he said, nodding toward the ship’s sailors and warplanes. “Our mission is just to keep the peace.”

Tensions have been running high between Tehran and Washington since late April, when Washington moved to cut Iran’s oil exports to “zero” and began to build up its military presence in the Middle East.

The US said on May 5 that it was sending military reinforcements, including the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers, and a battery of patriot missiles, to the Middle East, citing alleged unspecified “threats” from Iran.

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