The U.S. Navy Has an Aircraft Carrier Strike Group Off the Coast of Iran

 In Sea, Iran, Air, Forces & Capabilities, N11

The U.S. Navy is steam­ing a mas­sive, highly lethal Carrier Strike Group into strate­gi­cal­ly vital areas off the coast of Iran, demon­strat­ing sol­i­dar­i­ty, free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion, and readi­ness to launch war should that be nec­es­sary.

A Navy announce­ment said the ser­vice has sent the USS Nimitz air­craft car­ri­er along with two guided mis­sile cruis­ers and one destroy­er through the narrow and at times sen­si­tive Strait of Hormuz, a nar­row­er strip of ocean in the Arabian Gulf close­ly bor­der­ing Iran’s Western coast­line.

The pas­sage­way has, for years, been con­sid­ered vital for U.S. Navy strategists who seek to not only ensure region­al secu­ri­ty but also enable the free move­ment of very large amounts of com­mer­cial sea traf­fic. Very large per­cent­ages of the world’s oil supply trav­els through the area along with a high volume of com­mer­cial ves­sels con­duct­ing busi­ness through­out the area.

While ensuring safe transit of commercial and civil­ian ocean traf­fic is con­sid­ered essen­tial to the U.S. Navy’s vision, the Strait of Hormuz is also regard­ed as a highly sen­si­tive mil­i­tary “choke point.” It has often been a loca­tion of esca­lat­ing ten­sions between the United States and Iran.

The area is known to be home to shal­low and deep water mines and has often been an area where Iranian small boats have con­duct­ed provoca­tive maneu­vers, harassed com­mer­cial ves­sels and even approached U.S. war­ships.

One way the Navy seeks to address this is simply by increas­ing pres­ence and send­ing fire­pow­er to the region. The Carrier Strike Group could cer­tain­ly func­tion as a deter­rent against Iranian hos­til­i­ty, given that it brings mas­sive amounts of U.S. power-pro­jec­tion options to the area.

Carrier launched attack planes could easily reach sen­si­tive tar­gets over Iran from the ocean, destroy­er and cruis­er-fired Tomahawks could threat­en most of Iran from great dis­tances, and of course ships could send a sphere of unmanned sys­tems to include sup­port­ing aerial drones, under­sea robots and sur­face-oper­at­ing mine-sweep­ers.

When it comes to Iran’s siz­able arse­nal of ballistic missiles, Carrier Strike Groups present deter­rents as well in the form of inter­cep­tors able to pro­tect U.S. and allied inter­ests in the area. SM‑3 and SM‑6 inter­cep­tors, inte­grat­ed with ship-based Aegis radar sys­tems and fire con­trol, could track and take out Iranian ballistic missiles.

These kinds of oper­a­tions can serve a two-fold pres­ence; they can reas­sure allies and strengthen partnerships through col­lab­o­ra­tive train­ing exer­cis­es, while also send­ing a clear signal to Iran that, should it wish to engage in any hos­tile provo­ca­tions, the United States will be ready.

Finally, while Iran is less likely to launch a major war cam­paign against U.S. inter­ests, having Carrier Strike Groups appear in the area serves as a pow­er­ful reminder to Iran about the mas­sive extent of U.S. fire­pow­er avail­able in the event of unan­tic­i­pat­ed con­flict.

Kris Osborn is Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn pre­vi­ous­ly served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army — Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air mil­i­tary spe­cial­ist at nation­al TV net­works. He has appeared as a guest mil­i­tary expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters.

National Interest source|articles

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