US Navy says starts exercises in Gulf waters

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LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) The US Navy said it had begun a series of exercises in the Gulf and wider Gulf waters today involving a US aircraft carrier and two expeditionary assault ships.

The US Navy's Fifth Fleet headquartered in Bahrain said in a statement that it had begun a five-day crisis response exercise involving amphibious, air and medical forces in the Gulf.

''The scenario is challenging but prepares us for a real-world event,'' said Cmdr. Jay Chambers, of Combined Task Force 59.

He said the manoeuvres were designed to practise a coordinated response to a natural disaster or crisis in the region.

The navy said the exercise inside the Gulf is led by a task force that includes the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship. The vessel, which looks like a small aircraft carrier, carries marine corp helicopters and landing craft.

It also said the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and its strike group and the USS Kearsarge expeditionary strike group had begun training in wider Gulf waters.

The USS Kearsarge is another amphibious assault ship equipped with helicopters and landing craft. The US Marine Corps operates from the ship, which is designed for rapid deployment.

''Multiple strike groups are capable of executing a broad range of operations,'' the US Navy said.

The start of the exercises coincides with talks in London today between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany on whether to impose a third round of sanctions on Iran because of its refusal to stop enriching uranium.

REUTERS AM RAI2114

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