U.S. navy presence off Cyprus could deter Turkey – Greek press

The arrival of three U.S. navy ships including the USS Iwo Jima amphibious assault ship in waters off Cyprus has prompted observers to suggest their presence could be linked to ExxonMobil’s drilling for gas in the area, the GreekReporter news website said.

“Although the exercise was planned months ago, some commentators speculate that the U.S. naval activity in the Mediterranean may be linked to ExxonMobil’s drilling for gas in Cyprus’ economic waters,” the site said. U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil is to explore an area called Block 10 off Cyprus.

“ExxonMobil is sending two exploration vessels to the waters off Cyprus where Turkey last month blocked an Italian ship from looking for new gas deposits.”

Greek newspaper Kathimerini said that while the ships were there for joint operations with the Israeli navy, the increased naval presence could deter Turkish action against ExxonMobil.

“The increased U.S. naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean until the end of the month is seen as an indication of the concern triggered by Turkey’s recent hostility in the region, which last month led to the suspension of Italian energy company Eni’s drilling operations in Block 3 of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone,” it said.

“Turkey has made no claims to Block 10 as it has done for Block 3, but nonetheless warned the U.S. in recent days against sending its Sixth Fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean.”