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Navy Positioning Marines Near Zaire

The Navy has dispatched an amphibious warfare ship with 1,000 Marines to a position off Zaire as part of a task force preparing for the possible evacuation of Americans.

A Pentagon official said Saturday the USS Nassau, equipped with Cobra helicopter gunships, vertical-takeoff Harrier fighters and cargo helicopters, will travel from the Adriatic Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar southward through the Atlantic. It will take 10 to 13 days to reach its new position off west-central Africa.

The Marines have no orders to go ashore, the official said. “They are going down there to be in position if we’re called upon,” he said.

The Nassau was pulled out of the Adriatic a day after the Pentagon announced that the Clinton administration will send “several hundred” troops near Zaire. Home ported in Norfolk, Va., the Nassau was part of the effort to help Americans leave Albania to flee civil unrest in the Balkan nation.