Watch the Eisenhower

Three months ago we had an intriguing post about the positioning of U.S. aircraft carriers, and what it might portend for a possible attack on Iran.  Time for an update.

At the time, we noted that sending three carriers to the Persian Gulf would be a likely sign of attack.  Only two were in place at the time of the invasion of Iraq.  Since February, two carriers were positioned in the Gulf — the USS Eisenhower and the USS Stennis.  Now comes this news:

The U.S. Navy carrier USS John C. Stennis has left the Persian Gulf area, the Navy Times reported this weekend.

The Navy Times said the Stennis was sailing to support U.S. and NATO ground operations in Afghanistan. The Stennis leaves the Gulf area at a time when tensions between the United States and Iran appear to have eased slightly following Tehran's decision to release 15 British Navy sailors and Royal Marines it had seized, claiming they were in Iranian waters.

In January we also noted the positioning of the USS Nimitz would be crucial, since its predeployment preparations had just been completed.  It is now on its way to the Gulf — officially to relieve the Eisenhower.  If the Eisenhower goes home to Norfolk as scheduled, and the Stennis continues operations to support the effort in Afghanistan… well, do the math.  Perhaps the tensions really are ratcheting down.  But if the Eisenhower stays around longer than planned… Well, keep an eye on the Eisenhower.

Oh, and when you read the pronouncements of Iranian leaders that they plan to install 50,000 centrifuges for their nuclear program, you might also want to return to our January post for a reality check.