21:25 12 Apr 2003

The Allied naval commander said today that the US Navy may reduce the number of aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf as air operations wind down.

“The prosecution of air-to-ground targets is decreasing somewhat as the campaign reaches a certain phase of completion,” Navy Vice Adm. Timothy Keating told Pentagon reporters during a satellite news teleconference from Bahrain.
“If the sortie requirement goes down, then we’ll be able to pull [some] carriers off the line and send them home,” Keating pointed out.
He noted the Navy launched nearly 200 air sorties yesterday. Any reduction of carrier forces, he pointed out, would be dependent on mission requirements.

The Nimitz recently arrived to relieve the Lincoln. I read yesterday that two carriers, the Kitty Hawk and the Constellation, may be ordered home. The Kitty Hawk is based in Japan, and the Constellation is based in San Diego, CA.