As the world grows increasingly apprehensive about a potential terrorist attack during the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, two ships of the 6th Fleet arrived in the Black Sea Wednesday, according to the U.S. Navy.
The USS Mount Whitney and USS Taylor were sent to perform “routine” operations in the Black Sea ahead of the games, which are to begin Friday, Feb. 7.
While this may be a scheduled, routine operation, officials said the ships could be available to assist in any contingencies.
If U.S. athletes needed to be evacuated, the “USS Mount Whitney could be available to render such support,” a Defense Department official said Jan. 31, according to ABC news.
In late December, two suicide bombers killed 34 people in the southern Russian city of Volgograd. The attack raised significant concerns about security at the Winter Olympic Games.
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So far Russia has deployed more than 50,000 police and soldiers to counter any terrorist threat by Islamic radicals, based in the nearby Caucasus, who have vowed to launch attacks during the Games.
Islamist terrorists are seeking revenge, saying the Games are being held on the graves of 1 million innocent Circassians, an indigenous Muslim people, who were murdered by Russians in 1864.
The Mount Whitney and the Taylor are not the only military assets the U.S. has at the ready for Sochi. C-17 cargo planes from Ramstein Air Base in Germany could help evacuate athletes if necessary, while special operations units based in Stuttgart, Germany, and crisis-response U.S. Marines in Spain can respond to threats.