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Pentagon Sends Another Ship Into Persian Gulf Amid Iraq Turmoil

Image: A CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter launches from the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde in the Mediterranean Sea
The amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde during preparations for a field exercise in the Mediterranean Sea in October 2011.US NAVY / Reuters file

The amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde — which carries Osprey combat helicopters — will join other U.S. naval ships already in the gulf, including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

According to one senior defense official, “If the President orders airstrikes, we have plenty of firepower in the Gulf.”

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The move comes as the turmoil in Iraq deepens. The Shiite-led government has lost a huge swath of northern land to Sunni militants, who captured the key city of Tal Afar before dawn on Monday.

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Along with the Bush and the Mesa Verde, the U.S. has four guided missile destroyers in the Gulf: The USS Arleigh Burke, Truxtun, O'Kane and Phillipine Sea.

— Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube