USS New York, carrying a Benghazi suspect, has gone dark

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff Washington Post

An overhead view of the USS New York. (Defense Department)

An overhead view of the USS New York. (Defense Department)

Where is the USS New York?

At 684 feet long and displacing over 24,900 tons, the Mayport, Fla.-based San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock is no smart car of the seas. Yet the vessel has gone “dark” for more than a week now.

The low profile might have something to do with the fact that the New York is currently home to the recently captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, one of the accused ringleaders of the September 11-12, 2012, Benghazi terrorist attacks that left four Americans dead.

While any ship’s location is supposed to be a well-guarded secret when deployed, the New York is in a unique position, because instead of threading its way through the Suez Canal or dodging a Chinese destroyer, it’s believed to be steaming toward the East Coast: Abu Khattala is expected to be arraigned soon in Washington.

The ship’s crew has been noticeably absent from social media, most likely due to the fact that the entire ship’s outbound communications have been blacked out, or as the military calls it: “River City.” River City is usually implemented when a soldier is wounded or killed during combat operations. It allows for the Defense Department to notify family members before word gets out through unofficial means such as social media.

Officials have said Abu Khattala must be flown directly from the ship into the District for legal reasons.

The distance, as the crow flies, between Washington and Benghazi is around 5,280 miles. The [USS] New York, which can make 22 knots (25 mph) off its four turbocharged, 41,600 Shaft horsepower diesel engines would make that distance in a little under 11 days if cruising at 20 miles per hour and without interruption caused by inclement weather. Because Abu Khattala was captured 10 days ago, there’s a strong chance the New York is getting ready to pay the East Coast a visit.

So will the New York dock on the Georgetown waterfront? Or maybe down in Southeast? No, due to her draft and the shallowness of the Potomac River, the New York will most likely stay out at sea or somewhere in the Chesapeake Bay before transporting Abu Khattala from her flight deck via helicopter or V-22 Osprey to Washington.

And since Abu Khattala has to be transported directly from the ship into the District, that leaves only one airfield that services military aircraft: Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.

So where in the world is the USS New York? We’re probably about to find out.

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