Entries in Persian Gulf (8)


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


USS Porter Collides With Oil Tanker in Persian Gulf

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Porter suffered significant damage after colliding with an oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday.

The USS Porter was passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf.

The Japanese-owned, Panamanian flagged tanker M/V Otowasan was coming the other way, just entering the Strait of Hormuz, and the two crashed into one another.

The shipping lanes are very narrow, about two miles wide in each lane.  The crash left a hole in the side of the destroyer but no injuries were reported.

The damage is all above the water-line, so there is no danger that the ship will sink, but likely sustained water damage because the fire control system would have activated.

The USS Porter is headed to a port a called Jebel Ali in the UAE.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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


US Increases Forces in Persian Gulf as Iran Tensions Rise

File photo. (NORBERT SCHILLER/AFP/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON) -- In hopes of protecting the Strait of Hormuz — its key oil-shipping route — the United States has been quietly building up forces in the Persian Gulf to discourage Iran from following through on threats to shut down the waterway.

In light of July 1 sanctions by the United States and Europe making it harder for Iran to export oil to Europe, Iranian lawmakers have reportedly demanded the strait to be shut down.

The Strait of Hormuz connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea and an estimated one-fifth of the world’s oil travels through it.

The U.S. military has bases all over the Persian Gulf region and has kept about 40,000 troops in the region.  They’re there to reassure American allies in the region worried about potential Iranian military threats.

So far, the United States has sent additional fighter jets and beefed up its naval presence. The USS Ponce has just arrived in the waters off of Bahrain, with mine sweeping helicopters on board.

The Ponce is an old amphibious ship that has been converted into an interim Afloat Forward Stationed Base, a new kind of vessel staffed by a mixed crew of civilian and Navy sailors that can remain in the Gulf and serve as a floating base for minesweepers and helicopters operating in the Gulf region. The ship could also be used as a mobile staging base for special operations forces if the need arose.

Four additional minesweepers also arrived in the Gulf two weeks ago, doubling the number of such ships there, a Navy official told ABC News. The official said they are “wholly defensive in nature and are used to keep sea lanes clear so that commercial shipping may safely occur in international waters.”

A major minesweeping exercise in the Gulf is planned for September, with 19 countries participating.

The Navy maintains a two-carrier presence in the Middle East, and for much of this year has kept up a rotation that keeps an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.   The carriers operate in the Gulf for two- to three-week stretches and then transit out of the Strait of Hormuz.  Usually within a few days the other carrier moves into the Gulf for its turn.

Just last week the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln transited out of the Strait of Hormuz after spending two and a half weeks in the Gulf.  When not in the Gulf, the other carrier operates out of the Arabian Sea flying aircraft over Afghanistan.

The Air Force acknowledged in April that it had sent a complement of F-22 fighters to “Southwest Asia,” but did not specifically say that they were operating out of Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates.

A Defense official confirms that additional F-15E fighters have also been sent to the region, but did not identify the country they’d been sent to.

The Army has about 12,000 soldiers in Kuwait. A combat brigade that pulled out of Iraq in December with the rest of U.S. forces remained in Kuwait until June.  A few weeks ago that brigade from the 1st Cavalry Division was replaced by another brigade from the 3rd Infantry Division.  In addition to that, the Army has other National Guard combat brigades as well as a combat aviation brigade in Kuwait.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched a barrage of missiles Tuesday at “mock enemy bases” as part of a major war games exercise aimed at dissuading any potential outsider attack.

The mock enemy bases were located in desert areas, which is where U.S. forces are located in Kuwait. America’s Fifth Fleet is in Bahrain.

Reports from Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency alluded to diplomatic conflict between the United States and Iran.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Carrier Group Makes Way Through Strait of Hormuz

NORBERT SCHILLER/AFP/Getty Images(PERSIAN GULF) -- It was just after dawn when three U.S. warships and a carrier strike group began their long, tense transit through the Strait of Hormuz.

The strait has become a pressure point as Iran increases the heat of its rhetoric against the United States because of fresh economic sanctions imposed against it.

In December, Iranian officials warned the United States not to return to the Persian Gulf after the carrier USS John Stennis departed.

“You want to be always at the max state of readiness to respond to anything,” Capt. Richard McDaniel of the USS Sterett said.

Iran recently threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, attempting to use its control over the waterway as a trump card in its standoff with the West.

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One-fifth of the world’s oil supply -- 17 million barrels a day in 2011 -- passes through the strait, and the United States gets approximately 10 percent of its oil supply -- 1.7 million barrels a day -- from the strait.

Though Iran is not expected to close the strait, analysts still fear that a closure could double the price of oil, thereby erasing any prospect of a U.S. economic recovery and plunging the world into a new Great Recession.

Tuesday, ABC News was in the lead ship -- the USS Sterett, a destroyer with dozens of missiles and machine guns manned -- as the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln steamed through the strait.

On the bridge, the concentration was intense. The captain and crew monitored radar; surveillance tracked everything that moved.

The Iranians silently shadowed the carrier group as well.

U.S. surveillance showed Iranian navy vessels, drones and a patrol plane flying overhead. Much of Iran’s Navy was concentrated here.

The shipping lane is only two miles wide, so there was very little room to maneuver. The USS Abraham Lincoln’s dozens of F-18 fighter jets were on alert Tuesday. On Monday, before entering the strait, jets roared off the deck one after another on security and training missions.

Tuesday, U.S. helicopters beamed real-time images back to the ship.

Hours into the crossing, the captain was called to the deck. A small boat -- similar to those of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Navy that have been harassing U.S. ships in the last few months -- had approached.

“Any surface vessel that you see out here, you’re definitely going to pay attention to identify, figure out, what they’re doing,” McDaniel said.

The crew quickly determined that it was a smuggler who eventually turned away.

Naval commanders say these transits are routine, but they also fear that miscalculations on either side could threaten not only these ships but also close down the waterway and put the world’s economy at risk.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Looking at Bigger Bomb, Navy SEALs Mothership for Persian Gulf

Ebrahim Noroozi/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two high profile weapons systems are getting critical attention as the United States trades verbal barbs with Iran over Tehran's nuclear weapons program and its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.

The Navy SEALs are scheduled to receive a "special operations mothership" in the Persian Gulf that will search for mines and adversaries. Set to be retired just weeks ago, the 40-year-old U.S.S. Ponce is now on a fast-track rebuild to act as a floating U.S. base in the Persian Gulf.

In the long term, it’s going to be a mothership for special operations forces that will allow the U.S. to covertly deploy our special operations warriors to really difficult parts of the world where you don't want people on shore like Yemen and Somalia, military analyst Steve Ganyard told ABC News.

Ganyard said that in the short term, the United States is trying to "create a platform where we can put mine-hunting helicopters and keep them permanently based in the Strait of Hormuz so that if the Iranians do something stupid like try to put sea mines in and try to close off the Strait of Hormuz—thereby closing off 20 percent of the world's global oil supplies—we can quickly get in there and reopen the straits."

The Ponce is being enhanced with cranes to pull mines and the ability to dock 12 small boats. The renovated ship will have space for four helicopters, four video teleconference rooms, and an on board operations center.

Meanwhile, the defense department is being forced to rework a 30,000-pound bomb called the massive ordinance penetrator, or, in military terms, the MOP. The MOP is the military's largest conventional bomb, a super "bunker-buster" capable of destroying hardened targets deep underground.

The MOP is a massive bomb—20 feet long and encased in 3.5-inch thick high-performance steel. It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding.

But initial tests indicated that the bunker-buster may not be able to destroy some of Iran's facilities, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and so the Pentagon submitted a request to Congress this month for funding to work on the bomb's capabilities.

"We were building a bomb to one level of depth deep inside a granite mountain and now we need to go even deeper. We have to have that conventional capability to deter them from doing anything that might precipitate a war," Ganyard said.

The Defense Department has already spent about $330 million to develop about 20 of the bunker-buster bombs, and the Pentagon is requesting about $82 million more to make the bomb more effective, according to government officials briefed on the plan, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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


Secretary of State Clinton to Persian Gulf

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Secretary of State left late Saturday for a seven day trip to the Middle East and is expected to press Arab states to openly support tougher sanctions for Iran because of its nuclear efforts.

Secretary Hillary Clinton is expected to visit the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar ahead of the next round of nuclear talks with Iran next week in Istanbul.  Clinton will likely lay out expectations and offer Arab nations information on following the United Nations sanctions on Iran.

State Department officials also say the secretary will encourage more Arab countries to open embassies in Iraq.

A senior U.S official told the Wall Street Journal the main focus of the trip is actually pushing Arab nations toward a more "civil society."  The Obama administration has felt some heat from activists who feel it is not working hard enough for political reform in parts of the Middle East.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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