NEW YORK: Expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams has found a new home in Souda Bay in the Greek island of Crete, where it will be based.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed in Athens plans to relocate key US military assets from Incirlik air base in Turkey to Greece.
Adding to the growing uncertainty about the future of the US presence at Incirlik, Ron Jonson, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee for Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, said: “We don’t know what will happen to Incirlik. We hope for the best, but we have to plan for the worst.”
The American-Turkish relationship soured when Ankara announced plans to purchase the sophisticated Russian S-400 defense system despite vehement objections from the US and other NATO allies.
Pompeo’s visit comes as an energy dispute in the eastern Mediterranean continues to rage between Greece and Turkey, two NATO allies.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has on multiple occasions threatened to kick the US out of Incirlik.
Pompeo’s visit signals the US resolve to reduce its dependence on Turkey. He hailed Greece as a “pillar for stability and prosperity,” and said the country has become one of the strongest US military partners in Europe.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the American expeditionary ship is “symbolic of a defense partnership that will continue to expand and to grow.” He said Erdogan’s “unnecessarily extreme rhetoric” is stoking tensions.
Greece and the US are together “guarantors of stability,” Mitsotakis said, adding that his country is ready for further American investments. “The sky is the limit regarding what we can achieve together.”