USS Deyo Heads for Gulf
March 14, 2003
Port Said - Two US destroyers and three nuclear submarines headed south through the Suez Canal on Friday, after the Pentagon said it was considering sending more warships from the Mediterranean to join a war on Iraq.
Egyptian port authorities said the destroyers were the state-of-the-art USS Arleigh Burke and the USS Deyo, while the attack submarines were the Boise, Toledo and the San Juan, all of the Los Angeles class.
All the ships include Tomahawk cruise missiles in their arsenal.
A Pentagon official said on Thursday Washington was considering moving ships and submarines fitted with cruise missiles from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea for use in any attack on Iraq.
The decision involves "more than 10 ships" - cruisers, destroyers and submarines - and is tied to Turkey's recent refusal to grant US forces permission to fly over its territory.
The satellite-guided Tomahawk missiles, which have a range of 1 600km and can avoid radar detection, could then be targeted on Iraq "with the cooperative effort from Saudi Arabia", the official said.
A green light from Turkey would be needed to launch air bombings or missile strikes from two US aircraft carriers stationed in the eastern Mediterranean or even an airborne operation in northern Iraq.
Turkish Ambassador to the United States Faruk Logoglu said on Wednesday that preliminary discussions were under way on the possible use by US forces of Turkish airspace in case of war in Iraq.
The Turkish parliament on March 1 rejected a call by the government to allow a massive US military deployment in Turkey with the aim of sending ground troops to invade across Iraq's northern border.
The new Ankara government which is being set up by incoming Prime Minister designate Recep Tayyip Erdogan could call for a new parliamentary vote on the issue. - Sapa-AFP