The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is on course for the waters just off of Yemen to beef up anti-supply interdiction efforts in support of the Saudi-led air campaign against the rebel Houthis. The TR is currently on a round-the-world cruise to change its homeport from Norfolk, VA to San Diego, CA. While it was expected to participate in training maneuvers with the U.S. Fifth Fleet while in the region, the rapidly degrading situation in Yemen has forced it to change its operational attitude:
The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea amid reports that a convoy of about eight Iranian ships is heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis.
White House spokesperson Josh Ernest did not speak directly of the Naval maneuvers but did acknowledge ongoing concerns that Iran is providing material and arms to the Houthis:
“We have seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying weapons and other armed support to the Houthis in Yemen. That support will only contribute to greater violence in that country. These are exactly the kind of destabilizing activities that we have in mind when we raise concerns about Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East. The Iranians are acutely aware of our concerns for their continued support of the Houthis by sending them large shipments of weapons.“
Along with the TR there are at least 8 other Naval surface vessels in the immediate vicinity, as well as an unknown compliment of submarine escorts that routinely are attached to Aircraft Carrier groups.[AP]