Carrier headed to Persian Gulf

Here we go.

The United States has just dispatched a nuclear-powered attack aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush — one of the newest ships in the fleet — to the Persian Gulf.

Its mission is to protect Americans who might be put in harm’s way in the fighting that threatens to engulf Iraq.

This is a most interesting development.

Just so everyone is in the know, the George H.W. Bush is packing an immense amount of firepower.

I had the honor about two decades ago of spending a few nights aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, another of the Navy’s premier attack carriers. I was there to cover a tour led by the late U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson, D-Lufkin, who wanted to tour the ship, buck up the sailors and Marines aboard and tell them how proud he was of the service they perform for the country.

The Carl Vinson, I hasten to add, was the ship where they took Osama bin Laden’s body in May 2011; he then was “buried at sea,” reportedly in a respectful manner.

But to the point. The commanding officer of the Carl Vinson at the time was Capt. John Payne and he told us about the incredible amount of ordnance those ships pack while they’re deployed. I, of course, asked the obvious question: “Skipper, are you carrying any nukes?” He answered the only way he could: “You know I can’t answer that.” He had the slightest smile on his face as he replied.

There remains immense conventional firepower on these ships.

The George H.W. Bush is packing all of that — and perhaps even more, given that it is such a new ship.

This, I submit, is one of the “other options” President Obama is considering in response to the Iraq crisis. He has declared he won’t send ground troops back into Iraq. He hasn’t ruled out air strikes.

But with a massive warship headed straight into the war zone, my hunch is that we might be getting ready to unleash some of that firepower on the bad guys.

Stay tuned for the next act.