A second US aircraft carrier is heading to the Mediterranean for a “long-scheduled deployment,” the White House said Wednesday amid an expected Israeli ground offensive into the besieged Gaza Strip.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and its strike group is set to begin deployment in the next week, and will transit the Atlantic Ocean on its way to the Mediterranean Sea.

It is not currently planned for deployment to the eastern Mediterranean where the US has deployed the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier in a show of deterrence against additional parties joining the conflict in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.

Kirby said the Eisenhower “will be available if needed” in the eastern Mediterranean, but said “no decisions have been made.”

“No operational decisions like that have been made, but she will be heading in that direction, her ships will be with her, and she certainly will be an available asset if needed,” he said.

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