The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and four other ships in its strike group moved into the Red Sea early on Monday, U.S. defense officials said, describing the move as "prudent planning" in case the ships are needed for military action against Syria.
The officials said the Nimitz entered the Red Sea around 6 a.m. EDT (1000 GMT), but the strike group had not received any orders to move into the Mediterranean, where five U.S. destroyers and an amphibious ship, the USS San Antonio, remain poised for possible cruise missile strikes against Syria.
Moving the Nimitz into the Red Sea was aimed at putting more U.S. assets in place if they are needed to support what U.S. officials still describe as a limited attack against Syria after it used chemical weapons against civilians.
"It does place that strike group in a position to respond to a variety of contingencies," said one official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The nuclear-powered Nimitz is accompanied by the Princeton, a cruiser, and three destroyers - the William P. Lawrence, Stockdale and Shoup, according to the officials.