The United States is deploying additional warships to the Mediterranean to support possible United Nations-approved military action in Libya, the US Navy said Friday.
The USS Bataan, a helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ship, and two other vessels were deployed ahead of schedule, the navy said after the UN Security Council approved action to stop Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's offensive against rebels.
The Bataan will relieve the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and the transport docking ship USS Ponce, which have been in the Mediterranean for several weeks.
The Bataan has a fleet of helicopters and medical facilities that can be used to treat injured military forces or for humanitarian missions. The ship has six operating rooms and hospital facilities for up to 600 patients.
It is scheduled to depart from the state of Virginia on Wednesday along with the Mesa Verde, a transport dock ship, and the USS Whidbey Island, a dock landing ship.
Also in the Med are the USS Barry and the USS Stout.