The convoy of Iranian ships suspected of carrying weapons destined for rebels in Yemen is parked in the north Arabian Sea, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The aircraft carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt and a guided missile cruiser, the Normandy, are safely to the northeast, the officials said. The Theodore Roosevelt and seven other American ships arrived in the Arabian Sea on Monday, and U.S. officials said that they could intercept the convoy.
Iran backs the rebels, known as the Houthis, who have seized the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and other parts of the country. The United States has supported a Saudi-led campaign of airstrikes on rebel targets.
The Iranian convey is parked south-southeast of the Yemeni border with Oman, the U.S. officials said. Saudi and Egyptian warships are positioned to the southwest of the convoy, forming a blockade of the Gulf of Aden and the port city of Aden.
It was not clear Tuesday whether there had been any bridge-to-bridge contact between the Iranian convoy and the U.S. or coalition warships.
The Obama administration said Tuesday that the presence of a U.S. aircraft carrier near Yemen is intended to ensure freedom of navigation and commerce in the area.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest cited energy — among other important commodities — as key shipments near the coast of Yemen that need to be safeguarded.
— Jim Miklaszewski
Reuters contributed to this report,