Manama: The US Navy has denied media reports it is planning to relocate its Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet to a neighbouring country due to fears about continued unrest.
“The speculation in the London Times article about Fifth Fleet leaving Bahrain is false,” Commander Amy Derrick-Frost, US Navy Fifth Fleet public affairs officer, said.
“The US Navy has a long-standing relationship of more than 60 years with Bahrain and they are a vital member of our Combined Maritime Forces, supporting regional maritime security and stability. The US Fifth Fleet continues to support ongoing operations in the region and is committed to working with our regional partners to maintain security and stability in this area of operations,” he was quoted as saying by Gulf Daily News.
In Washington, US officials also denied press reports that the Fifth Fleet was considering a move out of Bahrain.
“We are aware of these reports, which do not reflect the views of either the departments of State or Defense,” a State Department official told The Huffington Post.
Western media reports have recently claimed that Washington was looking for a new home for the fleet amid concerns about instability.
The reports did not identify the sources of the claim, but said that the Fifth Fleet, a key component of US military power in the Gulf, has little desire to move.
The continued presence of the United States in Bahrain has evolved from small detachments organized nearly 60 years ago into a modern Naval Support Activity (NSA).
NSA Bahrain provides support through logistical, supply and protection as well as a Navy Exchange facility and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programmes to both US Armed Forces and coalition assets.
This month, guided-missile cruiser Gettysburg (CG 64) made a port visit to Manama after it had been underway for 26 consecutive days.
“We had a successful port visit,” Cmdr. John Gray, USS Gettysburg executive officer, said. “This port visit gave the crew a chance to relax and recharge their batteries.”
Aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) also pulled into port with Gettysburg, and both ships’ Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programmes worked together to provide liberty activities for the sailors, the Navy said.
Tours, such as an Arabic style lunch and dinner, swimming with dolphins, a guided culture tour, snorkeling and other swimming opportunities allowed the crew members to take advantage of time away from the ship, according to the Navy.