US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush to move from the northern Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf as President Barack Obama considers possible military options for Iraq.
Mr Hagel’s press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, says the order will give the president added flexibility if military action is required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq.
Accompanying the carrier will be the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun. These ships are expected to arrive later on Saturday.
The ships carry Tomahawk missiles, which could reach Iraq. The Bush is carrying fighter jets that could also easily get to Iraq, where a fast-moving Islamic insurgency is gaining territory.