CAIRO: Two US warships carrying marines and equipment on Wednesday steamed into the Mediterranean Sea en route to Libya, the Suez Canal Authority said, as the West weighed up military action.
"The USS Kearsage and the USS Ponce have entered the Mediterranean," the authority said in a statement.
The Kearsage amphibious ready group, with about 800 marines, a fleet of helicopters and medical facilities, could support humanitarian efforts as well as military operations.
"We’re certainly moving assets to be closer (to Libya)," a US defence official told AFP in Washington on Tuesday. "A ship like the Kearsage is capable of many types of missions."
Western powers are arguing over imposing a proposed no-fly zone over Libya to support rebels fighting Qaddafi’s regime. Some opposition figures in Libya have begun calling for air strikes.
But Qaddafi warned in a speech on Wednesday that "thousands" would die if the West intervened to support the uprising against him.
An American aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise — which has fighter jets that could enforce a possible no-fly zone — could also be called upon for the Libya crisis.
The carrier is currently in the north of the Red Sea, according to the US Navy’s website.