U.S. sends ships for possible evacuation of Americans in Egypt
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy has sent warships to Egypt in what could facilitate an evacuation of American diplomats and other staffers.
Officials said the Navy sent two surface vessels through the Red Sea as part of a Middle East security effort. They said the ships marked part of a three-vessel amphibious readiness group assigned to the Gulf, Arabian Sea and Red Sea.
"They're parked off of Egypt," U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos said. "Why? Because we don't know what's going to happen."
In an address to the Center for Strategic and International Studies on July 11, Amos identified the two ships sent to Egypt as the USS San Antonio and USS Kearsarge. He said the deployment, which took place three days earlier, marked a naval option for President Barack Obama.
"Egypt is [in] a crisis right now," Amos said. "When that happens, what we owe the senior leadership of our nation are some options."
The general raised the prospect that the U.S. Navy could be ordered to evacuate Americans from Egypt. He did not elaborate.
"If these were your relatives, your family members, you might want to have some help to get them out if that was what was required," Amos said.
USS San Antonio was described as an amphibious transport dock ship while Kearsarge was an amphibious assault vessel. Officials said the third ship in the amphibious group was the USS Carter Hall, stationed off Bahrain.
"With the issue of Egypt, we have in the north Red Sea, the Kearsarge amphibious readiness group is ready to respond," Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of Naval Operations, said.
The disclosure of the U.S. naval presence sparked anger in Egypt. Some Egyptian newspapers said the U.S. Navy was ordered to invade Egypt.
"We deny false claims in Egyptian press that U.S. naval ships are in the vicinity of the Arabian Peninsula and the Suez Canal to militarily invade Egypt," the U.S. embassy in Cairo said on July 13. "The United States has forces regularly deployed in the vicinity of the Arabian Peninsula, and U.S. vessels regularly pass through the Suez Canal en route to the Indian Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea."