Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group homecoming delayed; will return to Mediterranean

Posted on: 5:43 pm, November 19, 2012, by , updated on: 09:04am, November 20, 2012

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group is delaying its homecoming and returning to the eastern Mediterranean to remain on standby in the event they are needed to assist Americans leaving Israel in the coming days, according to two U.S. officials.

The officials stressed an evacuation remains an extremely remote possibility and the Obama administration is not currently planning for one. Americans who wish to leave the region now are able to do so using commercial airlines.

But the decision to send the ships even if the event is such a remote contingency underscores the growing concern about where the Israel-Gaza conflict could be headed.

Related:
Sailors and marines from the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group visit Rota, Spain

USS Iwo Jima sailor bids farewell to grandfather during burial-at-sea

USS Iwo Jima celebrates the Navy’s 237th birthday

“This is due diligence. It is better to be prepared should there be a need,” one official said Monday. Both officials said the ships would be used only for assisting Americans and not for any combat role.

The most immediate impact will be on the ships’ crews and the estimated 2,500 Marines on board. They had been scheduled to return to Norfolk, Virginia, just after Thanksgiving; their homecoming will now be delayed several days depending on events, the officials said.

The ships involved are the USS Iwo Jima, the USS New York and the USS Gunston Hall. At the end of last week the ships were west of Gibraltar, before the decision was made to turn them around and send them back to the eastern Mediterranean, where they will remain for now.

The U.S. military also maintains three to four ships off the coast of Israel that are capable of shooting down ballistic missiles. That deployment has stretch for some months in the face of a potential ballistic threat from Iran.

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  • Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Jessica Duenas makes a door hook out of a steel rod aboard the USS New York (U.S. Navy).

  • Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Casey Warnick moves ammunition during an offload aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Casey Warnick moves ammunition during an offload aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Tiana Poelinetz, left, and Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Twyisha Buchanan, right, count and verify ammunition serial numbers during ammunition offload aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Gunner's Mate Seaman Jordan Jarvis cleans a M240-B machine gun during routine weapon maintenance aboard the USS Gunston Hall (U.S. Navy).

  • Quartermaster 3rd Class Cherise Davidson folds a preparation flag during routine maintenance and inventory of flags and pennants aboard the USS Gunston Hall (U.S. Navy).

  • Boatswains Mate 3rd Class Sean Lachance stands lookout watch aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (U.S. Navy).

  • The USS Iwo Jima, foreground, the USS New York, back left, and the USS Gunston Hall, back right, offload ammunition to the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry, back middle. (U.S. Navy)

  • The USS Iwo Jima, foreground, the USS New York, back left, and the USS Gunston Hall, back right, offload ammunition to the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry, back middle. (U.S. Navy)

  • The USS Iwo Jima, foreground, the USS New York, back left, and the USS Gunston Hall, back right, offload ammunition to the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry, back middle. (U.S. Navy)

  • The USS Iwo Jima, foreground, the USS New York, back left, and the USS Gunston Hall, back right, offload ammunition to the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry, back middle. (U.S. Navy)

  • Cpl. Enzo Casas relays directional signals to a truck operator while repositioning equipment on flight deck aboard the USS Gunston Hall (U.S. Navy).

  • Hospital Corpsman 1st class Christian Hans, back right, gives a situational update to Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class Keith Moore, back left, aboard the USS New York during a force protection exercise. (U.S. Navy)

  • Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Carlos Gonzales sands down the surface of the ship's podium during a restoration project aboard the USS Gunston Hall. (U.S. Navy)

  • A Marine washes a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter aboard the USS New York (U.S. Navy).

  • An MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter prepares to land aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (U.S. Navy).

  • Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Hannah Marihugh directs an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter as it takes off from the USS New York (U.S. Navy).

  • The USS Iwo Jima, middle, The USS Gunston Hall, right, and the USS New York, left, steam in formation while transiting across the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy)

  • The USS Iwo Jima, front, the USS Gunston Hall, middle, and the USS New York, back, steam in formation while transiting across the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy)

  • Seaman David Bulger prepares meals for the crew aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (U.S. Navy).

  • Damage Controlman 2nd Class Aubry Rupp, left, adjust a Sailors’ firefighting ensemble during a fire drill aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class Timothy J. Dods, middle, dons his flash hood during a fire drill aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Justin Gallman, left, assists Machinery Repairman Fireman Nathaneya Davis, right, with donning a self-contained breathing apparatus during a fire drill aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Damage Controlman 3rd Class Jeremy Kane dons a self-contained breathing apparatus during a main space fire drill aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Damage Controlman 3rd Class Zachary Brewer dons a fire fighting ensenble during a main space fire drill aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Sailors participate in anti-terrorism training drills aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (U.S. Navy).

  • Seaman Yeamin Yun stands lookout watch aboard the USS New York during a transit through the Strait of Gibraltar. (U.S. Navy)

  • Quarter Master 2nd Class Willie Ray Robinson plots a course aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York during a transit through the Strait of Gibraltar. (U.S. Navy)

  • Aviation Boatswain’s Mate [Handling] Airman Joshua Mutter sands a P-100 storage station aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Aviation Boatswain’s Mate [Handling] Airman Cara Barnett tests a nozzle on a P-25 fire fighting truck aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Jesse Lanuevo closes a ship’s self defense anti-missile system shaft aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Electrician’s Mate Fireman Dazmine Galentine tests a hydraulic transfer pump aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Damage Controlman 3rd Class Zachary A. Brewer, left, and Damage Controlman 3rd Class Jeremy Kane, right, don firefighting ensembles during a main space fire drill aboard the USS Iwo Jima (U.S. Navy).

  • Gunner's Mate Seaman Apprentice Joshua A. Larson cleans a MK240B machine gun aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York. (U.S. Navy)

  • Marines from 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit conduct fast roping drills from a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter aboard the USS New York. (U.S. Navy)

  • A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter hovers above the flight deck of amphibious transport dock ship USS New York while conducting Marine fast-roping drills. (U.S. Navy)

  • A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter hovers above the flight deck of amphibious transport dock ship USS New York while conducting Marine fast-roping drills. (U.S. Navy)

  • A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter hovers above the flight deck of amphibious transport dock ship USS New York while conducting Marine fast-roping drills. (U.S. Navy)

  • A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter hovers above the flight deck of amphibious transport dock ship USS New York while conducting Marine fast-roping drills. (U.S. Navy)

  • CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters take off from amphibious transport dock ship USS New York in preparation for Marine fast-roping drills.(U.S. Navy)

  • Operations Specialist 3rd Class Austin Greening, back, directs Ship's Serviceman Seaman Jonathan Bennet, front, while shooting an MK 240B machine gun during a weapons qualification course aboard the USS New York. (U.S. Navy)

  • Chief Gunner's Mate Dean Avellaneda sights in an M240B machine gun aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York. (U.S. Navy)

  • Electronic's Technician 3rd Class Michael Gygax fires an M240B machine gun aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York. (U.S. Navy)

  • Chief Gunner's Mate Dean Avellaneda, left, instructs Electronic's Technician 2nd Class Matthew Dimmick, right, on a M240B machine gun aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York. (U.S. Navy)

  • Cpl. Eric Timmreck replaces a component on a circuit board aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima. (U.S. Navy)

  • Boatswain's Mate Seaman John Carlson, left, fires an MK240B machine gun while Gunner's Mate 3rd Class William Lawson, middle, and Chief Gunner's Mate Dean Avellaneda, right, watch the target during a weapons qualification course aboard the USS New York. (U.S. Navy)

  • Logistics Specialist Seaman Edward Murphy stands as the aft lookout aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York. (U.S. Navy)

  • Logistics Specialist Seaman Edward Murphy stands as the aft lookout aboard the USS New York. (U.S. Navy)

  • The USS New York conducts a replenishment-at-sea with fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie. (U.S. Navy)

  • The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima transits the Suez Canal. (U.S. Navy)

  • Photos: USS IWO JIMA

  • Photos: USS IWO JIMA

  • Photos: USS IWO JIMA

  • Photos: USS IWO JIMA

  • Photos: USS IWO JIMA

  • U.S. Sailors from the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) team hooks a caving ladder to the ship's catwalk. New York is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zane Ecklund/Released)

  • U.S. Sailors from the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) team hooks a caving ladder to the ship's catwalk. New York is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zane Ecklund/Released)

  • Damage Controlman Fireman Tyler S. Russell performs monthly maintenance checks on a P-100 firefighting pump in the hanger bay aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). Iwo Jima and embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jonathan L. Correa/Released)

  • Lt. Andrew J. Hoppe, ship’s dental officer, left, and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Rashad Thompson, right, perform a routine teeth cleaning in the dental ward aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). Iwo Jima and embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jonathan L. Correa/Released)

  • Airman Heather Prast applies touch-up paint to a bulkhead aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). Iwo Jima and embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jonathan L. Correa/Released)

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