Fourth U.S. carrier ordered to Arabian Sea
USS Stennis will provide relief to USS Carl Vinson
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis will leave San Diego, California, for the Arabian Sea on Monday to replace the USS Carl Vinson, Pentagon sources told CNN.
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) had requested the early deployment of the Stennis, which had been scheduled to deploy in January, and the request was approved.
Pentagon sources told CNN the deployment was "purely rotational." Stennis will join the carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Kitty Hawk.
A Pentagon official told CNN that all four aircraft carriers would be in the region for a brief period before the Carl Vinson heads home. During that period, Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander of CENTCOM, would have more than 150 carrier-borne strike aircraft available to him.
There are currently about 50 strike aircraft each aboard the Carl Vinson and the Theodore Roosevelt. Each ship also carries about 25 other aircraft, including helicopters and surveillance, refueling and electronic warfare planes.
The Kitty Hawk only has a handful of strike planes aboard because it is being used as a platform for Special Operations troops and helicopters
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