The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier battle group, which docked at Pearl Harbor on Friday, will remain near the Hawaiian Islands for a couple of days to continue its training.

Vinson battle group
still in isle waters

No deployment orders have been
received yet, but Korea
seems the likeliest location

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier battle group will remain near the Hawaiian Islands "for a couple of days" as it continues to train for a possible wartime mission, a Navy official said yesterday.

A Pacific Fleet spokesman said the 90,000-ton warship, with its 75 combat jet fighters, "still hasn't gotten deployment orders."

Adm. Thomas Fargo, Pacific Forces commander, requested last week that the Vinson be sent to the Korean peninsula region so the area would not be left without full military coverage should the carrier Kitty Hawk, based in Japan, be sent to the Persian Gulf for the possible war against Iraq.

In the Atlantic, the Norfolk, Va.-based USS Theodore Roosevelt and its battle group of seven other warships completed a training exercise near Puerto Rico and headed for the Persian Gulf region, the Navy said.

The Roosevelt battle group, carrying 8,000 troops, joins another Norfolk-based carrier group, led by the USS Harry S. Truman, already on deployment. The 12-ship Truman group headed overseas Dec. 5 on a regularly scheduled deployment and is in the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition to the Truman, two West Coast carriers are also in or near the Persian Gulf: the USS Constellation, in the Persian Gulf, and the USS Abraham Lincoln, in the western Pacific -- all part of the U.S. military's buildup for a possible war with Iraq.

The Vinson battle group -- which includes the cruiser USS Antietam and the destroyer USS Lassen, both based in San Diego; the frigate USS Ingraham, from Everett, Wash.; and the fast combat support ship USS Sacramento, from Bremerton, Wash. -- left Pearl Harbor yesterday after a weekend port call.

So far, no Pearl Harbor-based warship has joined the Vinson battle group.

After docking at Pearl Harbor on Friday, Vinson's skipper, Capt. Rick Wren, would not say where the battle group will go when it leaves Pearl Harbor. However, he noted, "We're ready to go anywhere."

Star-Bulletin news services contributed to this report.

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