The United States military says it is sending a radar-equipped warship to the Mediterranean -- and officials say the ship will be an early component of the planned European anti-ballistic missile defense shield.
John Plumb, the Pentagon's principal director of nuclear and missile defense policy, said the "USS Monterey" ship is scheduled to leave port in Norfolk, Virginia, next week to start a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean.
Plumb said the ship is intended to start laying the foundation for a new ship- and land-based missile-defense system aimed at guarding Europe against a potential Iranian missile threat.
The "USS Monterey" is described as a guided-missile cruiser equipped with a sophisticated Aegis radar system designed to detect ballistic missiles.
NATO endorsed the missile-defense plan at a summit last year, but U.S. and Russian officials have been struggling to overcome Russian concerns that the system could threaten Russia's security.
compiled from agency reports