The USS Abraham Lincoln passes a mosque on the bank of the Suez Canal. Navy photo

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and its strike group have passed through the Suez Canal in Egypt and entered the 5th Fleet area of operations in the Middle East.

The Lincoln, which left Norfolk on April 1 and will head to its new home port of San Diego at the end of its current deployment, is replacing the carrier USS John Stennis in the region.

The giant ship’s movement into the tense region was expedited last week, with U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton saying it would  “send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime.”

The Lincoln carries 90 attack jets, helicopters and other aircraft. I has a crew of 3,200 and an additional team of 2,400 pilots, mechanics and other personnel supporting flight operations.

Accompanying the Lincoln on the passage through the 120-mile-long waterway on Thursday were the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge and Spanish Navy frigate ESPS Mendez Nunez.

“Our Navy exists to deter conflict, ensure freedom of the seas, preserve our strategic interests and those of our allies, and respond to crises around the world,” said Rear Adm. John Wade, commander of Carrier Strike Group Twelve. “We have trained hard and worked diligently to ensure we are prepared and ready to conduct a whole host of missions wherever and whenever required.”

The Navy typically deploys one aircraft carrier battle group and one Marine expeditionary unit led by an amphibious assault ship in the Middle East at all times. The USS Kearsage amphibious group is there now, to be replaced soon by the USS Boxer, which left San Diego on May 1.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.