Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:46PM
The United States Navy has ordered two amphibious assault ships to move to the coast of Egypt amid the North African country’s post-coup violence.
Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Amos said the USS Kearsarge and the USS San Antonio “moved up into the Red Sea and parked off of Egypt,” a couple of nights ago, “because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Stars and Stripes reported.
“Crisis happens. Egypt is [in] a crisis right now,” Amos said. “When that happens…what we owe the senior leadership of our nation is versatile options.”
According to Marine Corps officials, moving the ships closer to shore would enable easier movement of helicopters and other equipment, if it were needed.
The two Virginia-based amphibious assault ships are “there on purpose,” Amos said.
“That’s the flexibility that in a response to a crisis we have to have,” he added.
The decision came after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a military coup last week. Washington, however, has refused to call the overthrow of the president a coup.
The recent chaos in Egypt has put the White House in limbo. On Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Washington will not stop providing military aid to Egypt despite the Morsi ouster.
The Department of Defense plans to send four more F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in the coming weeks, according to US defense officials.
US law prohibited financial assistance to any country whose elected head of state is deposed in a military coup. The United States supplies about $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt.
Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of Morsi held rival rallies across the Egyptian capital on Friday. Muslim Brotherhood, the influential group from which Morsi emerged, has vowed to keep protesting until he is reinstated.
More than 50 people were killed as the military-backed government stepped up its crackdown on people during the past week.