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Entries in Navy (16)

Thursday
Jan102013

Navy Sub Goes Bump in the Night and Loses Its Periscope

File photo - US Navy(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine USS Jacksonville was damaged early Thursday in the Persian Gulf when one of its two periscopes was struck by an unidentified vessel.

No one was hurt in the early-morning incident and the submarine’s nuclear reactor did not suffer any damage.

According to a statement from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, the Los Angeles-class submarine “struck a vessel while operating in the Persian Gulf Jan. 10 at approximately 5 a.m. local time.”

The submarine “then surfaced from periscope depth to ascertain if there was any damage to the unidentified vessel. The vessel continued on a consistent course and speed, offering no indication of distress or acknowledgement of a collision.”

A Navy official told ABC News that it is believed that the submarine had struck a fishing trawler.  He said the crew was conducting normal operations “when they felt a shudder, they felt the ship vibrate.”

The crew then tried to put up their periscope to determine what had happened, but found it was not working.  When they put up the submarine’s other periscope they discovered the first periscope “had been sheared off, cut right off,” said the official.

Using radar tracks and their periscope observations, the crew determined that a fishing trawler traveling in the opposite direction from the sub was likely responsible for the periscope having been sheared off.

The submarine then traveled by surface to the U.S. naval base in Bahrain, where a damage assessment is under way.

According to the statement, “The reactor remains in a safe condition, there was no damage to the propulsion plant systems and there is no concern regarding watertight integrity.”

A P-3 Orion aircraft later conducted an aerial search of the area and saw no debris in the water or an vessels in distress.

The incident is under investigation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct282012

Navy Replaces Admiral Leading Mideast Strike Group Because of Ongoing Investigation

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In an unusual move, the Navy has replaced an admiral commanding an aircraft carrier strike group while it is deployed to the Middle East.  The replacement was prompted by an Inspector General’s investigation of allegations of inappropriate leadership judgment.

Rear Adm. Charles M. Gaouette, the commander of the USS John C. Stennis strike group, is being returned to the United States for temporary reassignment.

In a statement, the Navy said it had approved a request made by Vice Adm. John W. Miller, the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, to temporarily reassign Gaouette “pending the results of an investigation by the Navy Inspector General.”

The statement said Gaoutte would return to the carrier’s home port of Bremerton, Washington.

A Navy official familiar with the circumstances of the investigation said it involved allegations of “inappropriate leadership judgment” and stressed it was not related to personal conduct.

The Stennis group arrived in the Fifth Fleet’s area of operations on Oct. 17 to replace the USS Enterprise, which was on the final deployment of its 50 years of service.   The allegations are recent and were made within the last couple of weeks.

The Stennis returned to Bremerton in March from a seven-month deployment to the Middle East.  In July the Pentagon ordered the carrier to deploy in August — four months ahead of schedule — so a two-carrier presence could be maintained in the Middle East after the Enterprise finished its deployment.   The other carrier strike group currently operating in the Fifth Fleet is the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Gaouette’s Chief of Staff, Capt. William C. Minter, will lead the strike group until Rear Adm. Troy M. Shoemaker arrives to take command “until the matter is resolved.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul162012

US Navy Fires on Ship in Persian Gulf, One Dead

John M. Hageman, U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) -- An American Navy ship fired on a boat in the Persian Gulf today, killing one person and injuring three others aboard the craft, a U.S. naval official told ABC News.

A spokesperson for the Navy's 5th Fleet, which is based in nearby Bahrain, said that a security team aboard the oil supply ship U.S.N.S. Rappahannock fired a .50 caliber machine gun at a "small motor vessel after it disregarded warnings and rapidly approached the U.S. ship" off the coast of Jebel Ali, a city approximately 30 miles from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The Navy is investigating the incident as details continue to emerge. A Navy official said the offending vessel was a white pleasure craft, but a UAE official told ABC News it was a fishing boat with four Indians and two Emirates on board. There doesn't appear to be any indication the incident was terror-related, the UAE official said.

The Navy official said it's not uncommon for Iranian speed craft to harass U.S. ships in the region, but in this case the boat wasn't Iranian.

"I can't emphasize enough that this has nothing to do with Iran," the official said.

American sailors are trained to take special caution of any vessels that appear to be approaching their warships. In 2000, the destroyer U.S.S. Cole was attacked off the coast of Yemen by al Qaeda terrorists who used a small private craft armed with explosives to attack the ship, killing 17 American sailors.

Word of the shooting comes on the same day that the Pentagon confirmed that it had agreed to a recent request from U.S. Central Command to maintain a two carrier presence in the Middle East.

The carrier U.S.S. John C. Stennis has been ordered to head to the region four months ahead of schedule in September to replace the outgoing U.S.S. Enterprise. A Pentagon spokesman said the Stennis is being sent so that there is no gap in between two carrier assignments to the region.

On Sunday, the U.S.S. Eisenhower replaced the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in the region. By replacing the Enterprise, the U.S. will now be able to avoid having just one carrier in the region.

The U.S. Navy usually rotates one of its two carriers into the Persian Gulf while the other operates in the Arabian Sea providing air support for the war in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

Navy Chief Says Strait of Hormuz Keeps Him 'Up at Night'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, volunteered Tuesday that the Strait of Hormuz keeps him awake at night.

“If you ask me what keeps me awake at night, it’s the Strait of Hormuz and the business going on in the Arabian Gulf,” Greenert said during a question-and-answer session following his remarks to the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

He added that it’s been that way since his recent visit to Bahrain. “When I was over there, I rode the Strait of Hormuz, took a look around and view that as an important aspect. So the Navy won’t be taking their eye off the ball. ”

Twenty percent of the world’s oil transits through the narrow entryway into the Persian Gulf, and Iran has recently raised tensions with the United States about access to the waterway.

“Our folks that transit in and around that area, I want to make sure that they’re able to do with the things that they need to deal with, basically self-protection, counterswarm, ASW,” Greenert said. "And so the -- that’s what I’m talking about in that regard.”

As far as the newly unveiled military strategy that places a focus on Asia, Greenert said it will not mean an increase in the number of Navy assets there already.    

“It’s not a big naval buildup in the Far East,” he said.  “We’re there, we have been there, we will continue to be there. ”

He said the new strategic guidance will help direct “the number of ships, aircraft and equipment that we need to distribute around the world, where they are, and adjust accordingly. But my first assessment is we’re in good shape in the Navy where we stand in the western Pacific.”

So it “won’t affect operations in East Asia” because the number of U.S. Navy ships in the region “is about the right proportion I see for the near term. “

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

US Navy Rescues Iranian Sailors, Again

U.S. Coast Guard(WASHINGTON) -- For the second time in as many weeks, the U.S. Navy has rescued distressed Iranian sailors, despite the extremely high tensions between the two nations.

According to the Navy's account, at about 3 a.m. local time Tuesday an American Coast Guard patrol boat in the north Persian Gulf was hailed by flares and flashlights from an Iranian cargo ship whose engine room was flooding. Six Iranians were rescued from the ship, fed halal meals in accordance with Islamic law, and later taken to shore.

"Saving lives is the last thing you expect to do at [3 a.m.] while patrolling in the Northern Arabian Gulf, but being in the Coast Guard, that's what we are trained to do," Boatswain Mate 2nd Class Emily Poole said in a Navy statement, using an alternate designation for the Persian Gulf.

Last week, the U.S. Navy rescued more than a dozen Iranian sailors who had been held hostage by pirates in the Arabian Sea for weeks. American sailors on a "visit, board, search and seizure team" were able to free the sailors and take 15 suspected pirates into custody without incident on Jan. 5, the Navy said. The pirates had been apparently using the Iranian vessel as a "mothership" to launch pirate operations in the region.

Last week's Navy rescue drew a lukewarm response from Iranian officials, but after the more recent incident, the captain of an Iranian coast guard vessel that picked up the rescued mariners was quick to thank his American counterparts.

The U.S. Navy said the captain of the Naji 7, through a translator, "Sends his regards and thanks to our Captain and all crewmembers for assisting, and taking care of the Iranian sailors. Wishes us the best, and thanks us for our cooperation."

Both rescues come in the midst of an especially tense time between the U.S. and Iran. Most recently, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Monday Iran has been enriching uranium in a highly-protected underground bunker as part of the nation's nuclear program -- a move the U.S. State Department said was a "further escalation of their ongoing violations with regard to their nuclear obligations."

Over the weekend, an Iranian court handed down a death sentence to an American former Marine accused of spying for the CIA in Tehran. Both the U.S. government and the 28-year-old's family have repeatedly called the Iranian allegations "fabrications."

Last week, the Iranian navy carried out a major exercise in the Persian Gulf that reportedly included missile tests and surveillance of U.S. vessels in the area. An Iranian military commander then warned the U.S. not to send U.S. warships back into the Persian Gulf following a battle group's trip out of the Gulf to assist operations in Afghanistan.

"We are not used to repeating our warnings and we issue warnings only once," Iranian Army Commander Major General Ataollah Salehi said last week, according to Iran's Fars News Agency.

Iranian officials also threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to a new round of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow gap that links the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean, is the world's "most important oil chokepoint" due to the amount of Middle East oil that flows through it daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan062012

US Navy Rescues Iranians from Pirates

U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) -- Despite rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the U.S. Navy rescued more than a dozen Iranian sailors who had been held at sea by a band of pirates for weeks, the Pentagon announced Friday.

According to the military's account, an American helicopter from the destroyer USS Kidd "detected a suspected pirate skiff alongside" an Iranian-flagged fishing ship Thursday. At the same time, the Iranian ship was able to send a distress call, claiming the ship was held by pirates.

American Navy sailors with a "visit, board, search and seizure team" then boarded the Iranian ship and were able to detain 15 suspected pirates and free the 13-member Iranian crew, the Pentagon said. A Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent on the scene, Josh Schminky, said the Iranian crew had been forced to help the pirates carry out operations in the Persian Gulf and pirates had apparently been using the Iranian ship as a "mothership".

"When we boarded, we gave [the Iranians] food, water, and medical care," Schminky said in a Pentagon report. "They had been through a lot. We went out of our way to treat the fishing crew with kindness and respect."

The pirates were detained and were taken aboard the USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier at the center of a six-ship strike group. A Pentagon spokesperson said it was unclear if the Iranian government was aware of the incident.

The rescue comes in the midst of an especially tense time between the U.S. and Iran. Last week, the Iranian navy carried out a major exercise in the Persian Gulf that reportedly included missile tests and surveillance of U.S. vessels in the area. An Iranian military commander then warned the U.S. on Tuesday not to send U.S. warships -- including the Stennis Strike Group -- back into the Persian Gulf following the Stennis' trip out of the Gulf to assist operations in Afghanistan.

"We are not used to repeating our warnings and we issue warnings only once," Iranian Army Commander Major General Ataollah Salehi said Tuesday, according to Iran's Fars News Agency.

Iranian officials also threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to a new round of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow gap that links the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean, is the world's "most important oil chokepoint" due to the amount of Middle East oil that flows through it daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The Obama administration, however, dismissed the threats.

"It's the latest round of Iranian threats and is confirmation that Tehran is under increasing pressure for its continued failure to live up to its international obligations," White House press secretary Jay Carney said the same day as Salehi's comments.

On Friday, another Iranian military commander reportedly announced Iran planned to hold more naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz next month.

Despite the recent Iranian blustering, Pentagon spokesperson Capt. John Kirby called Friday's rescue an example of "positive engagement" with the Middle Eastern nation, a sentiment reportedly shared by the ship's captain.

"The captain of the [Iranian vessel] expressed his sincere gratitude that we came to assist them," Schminky said. "He was afraid that without our help, they could have been there for months."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan062012

Iran to Hold More Naval Drills in Strait of Hormuz Next Month

EBRAHIM NOROOZI/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- After completing 10 days of maritime wargames earlier this week, Iran announced Friday it will conduct more naval exercises in February.

Previewing the event, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier Gen. Ahmad Vahidi -- as quoted by Fars News Agency -- told reporters on Wednesday that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' next set of naval drills would be the "greatest."

The exercises will take place in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz -- the same region where the last drills were held. Those 10-day wargames were deemed "successful" by Navy Commander Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, according to Fars News Agency.

The announcement of the new drills comes as tension with the West grows.  Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial passageway for around one-fifth of the world's oil, and has warned American ships against trying to pass through without permission. The Pentagon has asserted such a blockade will not be tolerated.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov042011

Israel Blocks Activist Ships from Entering Gaza

A Palestinian protester holds a replica of a boat during a weekly demonstration against Israeli settlement expansion, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on November 4, 2011, the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank. ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images(TEL AVIV) -- Two boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists were stopped by the Israeli Navy on Friday as they tried to sail to the Gaza Strip and break Israel’s naval blockade. The white motoryachts were boarded after a radio exchange, and were led to a port in Israel’s southern city of Ashdod. There were no reports of clashes or injuries.

“Following [the activists'] unwillingness to cooperate, and after ignoring calls to divert to the port of Ashdod, the decision was made to board the vessels and lead them there,” Israel’s military said in a statement.

The Canadian boat, the Tahrir, and the Irish boat, Saoirse, called their effort “Freedom Waves,” sailing from Turkey on Wednesday with 27 international activists, journalists and crew on board.

“Israel has caged Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, prohibiting physical contact between us,” Palestinian student Majd Kayyal said in a statement from the Tahrir on Wednesday. “We want to break the siege Israel has imposed on our people.”

Israel responded quickly, saying the navy would block the small flotilla’s attempts to break the blockade around Gaza. Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman Avital Liebovich accused the boats of provocation, even referring to them as “provocatilla” on Twitter.

In addition to the land blockade around Gaza that tightly controls the flow of goods and people, there has been a maritime blockade around Gaza since 2009. Israel argues it is necessary to prevent weapons from being smuggled into Gaza for Hamas and other militant Islamist groups; critics say the blockade violates human rights.

In early September, the United Nations published the Palmer Report, which said the maritime blockade is justifiable under international law.

Activists say they will continue to try to sail to Gaza in the near future “to send the world and public opinion the message that Gaza is still under siege,” Huwaida Arraf from the Free Gaza Movement’s told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. “The next boats will be launched in an organized manner, wave after wave, under the name Flotilla Waves of Freedom.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep292011

Commander: Iran to Send Navy Ships Near US Coast

Comstock/Thinkstock (file photo)(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran plans to send Navy vessels steaming across the Atlantic and towards the U.S. to build up an open sea presence along the East Coast, according to the Iranian Navy's top commander.

"Just like the global hegemony that is present near our marine borders, we … also plan to establish a strong presence near U.S. marine borders," Iranian Navy Commander Habibollah Sayyari said Tuesday, according to Iran's state news agency.

A spokesperson for the Department of Defense said that Iran is "obviously" free to take their ships into international waters halfway around the world but questioned the country's ability or willingness to do so.

"There is freedom of the high seas," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters on Wednesday.  "Now whether they can truly project naval power beyond the region is another question in and of itself... I wouldn't read too much into what came out of Iran today."

"What is said and what is actually done can be two different things," he said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney was even more blunt in his assessment, saying, "We don't take these statements seriously."

The Iranian commander made the comments at the same Tehran ceremony where another top naval commander reportedly said the country had denied a recent request from the U.S. to establish a direct "hotline" between the two countries.

"We would establish direct contact with the United States if we would ever go to the Gulf of Mexico," Ali Fadavi, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy, said.

Reports emerged earlier this month that some U.S. officials were considering establishing a hotline between the U.S. and Iranian navies after a series of incidents in the Persian Gulf that could potentially have led to a greater conflict.  A senior defense official told ABC News, however, that any discussion of such a hotline was "premature".

"There may or may not be advocates for establishing a naval hotline at some point," the official said then, "but discussion of it is very premature.  There are no proposals for opening up such a channel currently in front of either the secretary of defense or the president."

Little said Wednesday he was not aware of "any contact" between the U.S. and Iranian military about the hotline.

Fadavi said the hotline would be unnecessary if the U.S. would just leave the Persian Gulf altogether where its presence, Fadavi said, is "illegitimate and makes no sense," Iranian Fars News Agency reported.

"They want to have a hotline so that in case of tension, we can settle it but we believe that if they are not deployed in the region, no tension will occur," he said.

Sayyari's announcement also came the same day another top Iranian military official said the country had mass-produced and supplied the Iranian navy with new "anti-ship cruise missiles" with a range of over 124 miles.

The Fars News Agency said Iranian officials "have always stressed that the country's military and arms programs serve defensive purposes and should not be perceived as a threat to any other country."

Earlier this year, two Iranian naval ships crossed through Egypt's Suez Canal, the nation's first venture through the canal in three decades, during a trip into the Mediterranean and on to Syria.

The U.S. territorial sea generally extends 12 nautical miles -- or nearly 14 miles -- off the shore, according to the U.S. Office of Coast Survey.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

US: "Inconsistencies" in Reports About Syrian Naval Attack on Port City

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- State Department spokesperson Victorial Nuland said Monday that the U.S. sees a number of "inconsistencies" in reports that the Syrian navy has taken part in the shelling of the port city of Latakia.
 
"There are some inconsistencies in -- about -- with regard to what Syria actually has," she told reporters. Nuland declined to elaborate on what those discrepancies may be, but only added that the U.S. hasn't seen the firing from the sea itself.
 
A State Department official, speaking on background, says that the U.S. doesn't believe the Syrian gunboats have the capability to shell the town like reports indicate, hence Nuland's hesitation.
 
"We have been unable to confirm, actually, the use of naval assets. However, we are able to confirm that there is armor in the city, and that there is firing on innocents again in the pattern of carnage that you have seen in other places.  So we are concerned," she said, describing the violence there and in other parts of Syria as "carnage."
 
Nuland tried to defend the Obama administration's efforts to halt the Assad regime's crackdown, which have consisted thus far of unilateral sanctions and slowly harsher condemnation of the violence.
 
"So far they do not appear to be listening.  But we do believe that there is more that can be done. As the secretary said on Thursday, there are countries out there that are still trading oil and gas with Syria.  There are countries out there that have not renounced their willingness to send arms to Syria. So we are working to strengthen that coalition and continue to ensure that the message from the international community has teeth," she said.
 
Turkey on Monday gave Syrian President Bashar Assad an ultimatum to reform or else -- a follow-up on a visit to Damascus by the Turkish foreign minister last week.
 
The Obama administration is still planning to call on Assad to step down should the attacks continue, and is hoping to coordinate this with other countries like Turkey. Turkey and others had asked the U.S. to hold off in order for their diplomatic efforts to bear fruit, but Monday's Turkish announcement is a sign they're preparing to take the next step as well. A U.S. official tells ABC News a new executive order has been prepared in order to hit Assad with more sanctions in coordination with the declaration that would come from the president.
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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