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Trump’s armada: Huge task force of 12 warships sets sail for Syria in one of the biggest concentrations of US naval power since the 2003 Iraq invasion
- Four US destroyers, including Donald Cook armed with Tomahawk missiles, believed to be in Mediterranean
- The giant USS Harry S Truman, with 90 aircraft and a five-strong strike group, is steaming towards Europe
- Comes amid increasing tensions with Russia following Syrian chemical atrocity that left 40 dead on Saturday
- Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is said to have hidden his military assets on Russian bases in the country
The giant nuclear powered USS Harry S Truman, carrying 90 aircraft and escorted by its five-strong strike group of destroyers and cruisers, is powering towards Europe and the Middle East.
A further four destroyers are believed to be in or near the Mediterranean already, including the Donald Cook, Porter, Carney and Laboon along with two nuclear-powered submarines, Georgia and John Warner.
The deployment of 12 US warships on one mission is a huge concentration of fire power, one of the biggest since six aircraft carriers supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
It comes amid heightened tensions as Donald Trump continues to consider launching airstrikes on Syria in retaliation for a chemical gas attack in a rebel-held town on Saturday. Russia has threatened to take down any missiles launched at the Assad regime’s forces using its fearsome S-400 defence system.
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has reportedly moved his military assets to Russian bases in the country in the hope that the US and its allies would be reluctant to launch strikes anywhere near Vladimir Putin’s forces.
The giant nuclear powered USS Harry S Truman, carrying 90 aircraft and escorted by its five-strong strike group of destroyers and cruisers, is powering towards Europe and the Middle East. In total the Truman will be accompanied by two submarines (USS Georgia and John Warner), nine destroyers (USS USS Donald Cook, Porter, Carney, Laboon, Farragut, Forrest Sherman, Bulkeley and Arleigh Burke) and one missile cruiser (USS Normandy).
The majority of the ships sailing towards Syria are Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. They are designed to perform a wide variety of missions including missile strikes, anti-submarine warfare, anti-aircraft duties and surface warfare. The USS Farragut (pictured) is among the ships accompanying the giant aircraft carrier. In total eight destroyers of this class are headed towards Syria: The USS Donald Cook, Porter, Carney, Laboon, Farragut, Forrest Sherman, Bulkeley and Arleigh Burke
All the Arleigh Burke class destroyers carry 90 Tomahawk missiles. One is pictured launching from the USS Porter in the Mediterranean in 2003
Aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines: The huge US armada heading for Syria
USS Harry S Truman, Nimitz-class:
Weight: 116,000 tons
Length: 1,092 ft
Propulsion: Two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors and four steam turbines
Ship’s crew: 3,200
Air wing personnel: 2,480ft
Aircraft carried: 90 fixed wing and helicopters
Armament: Sea Sparrow, RIM-116 Missile and three Phalanx guns
Strike group: USS Normandy, USS Bulkeley, USS Arleigh Burke, USS Forrest Sherman, USS Farragut
USS Georgia, Ohio-class:
Length: 560 ft
Propulsion: One S8G PWR nuclear reactor and two geared turbines
Test depth: Greater than 800ft
Armament: Four torpedo tubes and 154 BGM-109 Tomahawks in 22 groups of seven
USS John Warner, Virginia Class:
Armament: 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles and four torpedo tubes
Launched: September 10, 2014
Arleigh Burke Class: Donald Cook, Porter, Carney, Laboon, Farragut, Forrest Sherman, Bulkeley and Arleigh Burke
Displacement: 6,900 tons
Range: 4,400 nautical miles
Armament: Includes Tomahawk missiles, Harpoon Missile launcher, chain guns
GUIDED MISSILE CRUISER
USS Normandy, Ticonderoga-class
On Thursday, the White House said that a ‘final decision’ had not been made on Syria.
Donald Trump had said earlier in the day that Americans won’t have to wait long for a response to Saturday’s horrifying chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town that left at least 40 dead and others gasping for air.
But at least two of his top advisers couldn’t agree on whether there’s sufficient proof to blame the atrocity on dictator Bashar al-Assad’s government, leaving the possibility of a retaliatory attack an open-ended question.
America’s allies and adversaries alike were awaiting a signal from the White House about whether Trump will follow through on his warning that missiles ‘will be coming,’ potentially putting Russian troops in harm’s way.
At close of business, the White House said that Trump had just concluded a meeting with his national security team and would be speaking again later to the heads of government in France and the U.K.
‘No final decision has been made,’ press secretary Sarah Sanders said. ‘We are continuing to asses intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies.’
Trump suggested that he’d have an answer in hours, telling reporters, ‘It’s too bad that the world puts us in a position like that, but as I said this morning we’ve done a great job with ISIS. We have just absolutely decimated ISIS. But now we have to make some further decisions, so they’ll be made fairly soon.’
But on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary James Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee that the U.S. hasn’t reached any conclusions.
President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday before a meeting with Republican senators and governors that he would decide ‘fairly soon’ on an American response to Saturday’s deadly poison gas attack in Syria
The guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (pictured) is also steaming towards Europe and the Middle East
The 500ft USS Laboon destroyer (pictured), also armed is reported to be among US warships already deployed in the area. It is shown launching a Tomahawk cruise missile in an attack on southern Iraq in 1996
The USS Georgia, an Ohio-class submarine carrying guided missiles, is also said to be in the area