WASHINGTON — The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt has moved off the coast of Yemen to prepare to intercept potential shipments of Iranian weapons to the rebels fighting the U.S.-backed government of Yemen, Pentagon officials said Monday.
Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the carrier and ships supporting her had been in the Persian Gulf. They moved to the waters near Yemen because of increased instability there, he said.
The Roosevelt is also tracking a convoy of Iranian ships headed to the Gulf of Aden, said two Defense officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the Iranian vessels. The Iranians have been supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The Roosevelt began steaming toward Yemen Sunday, said a Navy official who was not authorized to speak about the issue publicly. With the Roosevelt, the Navy now has nine warships off Yemen, the Navy official said. The Navy usually has amphibious ships for landing troops and gear in the region. The Roosevelt “significantly” adds to the Navy’s firepower there.
The Pentagon has been tracking the progress of the Iranian ships since last week, one of the Defense officials said. The Navy is prepared to intercept the ships.