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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 080-96
February 14, 1996

DOD ANNOUNCES PLANS TO FORWARD DEPLOY TWO MINE COUNTERMEASURES (MCM) SHIPS IN THE ARABIAN GULF

The Department of Defense today announced plans to forward deploy two mine countermeasures (MCM) ships, USS Ardent (MCM 12) and USS Dextrous (MCM 13) to the Arabian Gulf beginning in march 1996. These ships, currently homeported in Ingleside, Texas, are scheduled to depart in February 1996 for their new duty assignment tothe United States Fifth Fleet. Each ship will be manned by four rotational crews from other MCM's that remain based in Ingleside. The ships, which are being transported via the commercial heavy-lift vessel "Sea Swift," are to arrive by the end of March, 1996. The unique capabilities of these ships make them valuable assets in joint expeditionary operations.

Forward deployment of these ships will provide a readily available mine countermeasures capability in the region, helping to ensure that vital sea choke points in the region are kept open. Keeping the MCM's on station in gulf waters will eliminate transit and logistics constraints associated with deploying MCM's from Ingleside to the Arabian Gulf. This forward deployment is further evidence of the continued United States commitment to peace and stability in the Arabian Gulf region.

The transfer of Ardent and Dextrous by commercial heavy-lift vessel will prolong the engine lives of the ships and reduce their transit time from sixty days (under their own power) to thirty days. The ships departed Ingleside on January 27 (Ardent) and Fbruary 5 (Dextrous), and are currently in Charleston, SC, making heavy lift and other deployment preparations. They are scheduled to depart Charleston by mid-to-late February. The two 83-man crews will be flown from Ingleside to join the ships in late March.