TWO US warships carrying marines and equipment have entered the Suez Canal en route to Libya, as the US and Europe piled pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
“The USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce entered the Suez Canal from the southern entrance at 3pm today (AEDT) and are making their way to the Mediterranean sea,” a canal authority official said.
On average it takes 12 to 14 hours for a ship to transit the canal.
The Kearsarge amphibious ready group, with about 800 marines, a fleet of helicopters and medical facilities, could support humanitarian efforts as well as military operations.
“We’re certainly moving assets to be closer (to Libya),” a US defence official told AFP in Washington yesterday.
“A ship like the Kearsage is capable of many types of missions.”
Western powers are arguing over imposing a proposed no-fly zone over Libya to support rebels fighting Gaddafi’s regime. Some opposition figures in Libya have begun calling for air strikes.
An American aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise – which has fighter jets that could enforce a possible no-fly zone – could also be called upon for the Libya crisis.
The carrier is currently in the north of the Red Sea, according to the US Navy’s website. Agencies