Entries in Strait of Hormuz (14)


Iran Test Fires Missiles in Strait of Hormuz

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- As U.S.-led naval maneuvers wind down in the Gulf, Iran has reportedly conducted its own drill not far away.

The country says it test fired four missiles capable of hitting ships and sunk its target in less than a minute.  The exercises, which were previously scheduled, took place in the Strait of Hormuz -- a key passage way for 20 percent of the world's oil -- and just 250 miles from where the U.S. has been conducting mine sweeping exercises.

The drill comes at a very tense time, with Israel saying Iran's nuclear program must be stopped and urging the U.S. to take a tougher line.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Beefs Up Presence Closer to Iran’s Shores

Hmera/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Nearly 50 miles from Iran sails the nuclear-powered USS Eisenhower -- never before has the U.S. flexed so much muscle so close to the Muslim nation.

The move is a blunt warning to Iran: Don’t follow through on a threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-fifth of the world’s oil passes.

If Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites, Iran has promised to fill the strait’s waters with boats packed with explosives and mine the seabed.

“A $1,500 piece of explosive can take out hundreds of millions of assets in shipping and cargo,” said Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, commander of Carrier Strike Group Eight.

With more jets, ships and nations -- 30 -- involved than in previous exercises, the U.S. has sent two aircraft carriers into the region.

Each carries more than 40 F-18 fighter jets that could reach thousands of miles into Iranian air space. In addition, each fighter jet has more firepower than the entire Iranian Air Force.

The international show of force is meant to reassure Israel and persuade Iran to not try anything -- even if it is attacked.

The U.S. hopes that tensions will ease, but Israel has warned that Iran’s capital, Tehran, is only six months away from a potential nuclear weapon.

“As you can see, I can do a lot of damage with the airplanes that are onboard -- also the weapons that are in the strike group,” Manazir said. “But also, I can be a stabilizing influence.”

Even after the exercise ends, though, the troops and additional assets will remain in the region to remind Iran that the U.S. can act just a few miles from its shores.

Copyright 2012 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 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 Carrier Sails Through Strait of Hormuz

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Will Tyndall/Released(WASHINGTON) -- An American aircraft carrier passed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf over the weekend, in what the U.S. Navy is calling a routine maneuver.

Amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the USS Abraham Lincoln entered the Gulf on Sunday to conduct scheduled maritime security operations.  The carrier had just arrived in the United States Central Command area on Thursday, replacing the USS Stennis, which is now headed home.

“USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) completed a regular and routine transit of the Strait of Hormuz, January 22, to conduct maritime security operations as scheduled and in support of requirements set by the combatant commander. The transit was completed as previously scheduled and without incident,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.

In December, Iranian officials had warned the U.S. not to return after the carrier USS John Stennis departed the Gulf.  Iran also suggested the Strait may be closed in retaliation over fresh economic sanctions imposed against the country.

The other U.S. carrier currently in the region is the USS Carl Vinson, which is in the Arabian Sea and is providing air cover for troops in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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


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


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


Pentagon Dismisses Latest Iranian Threat to Stop Naval Carrier

U.S. Navy/Photographer's Mate Airman Tina Lamb(WASHINGTON) -- Iran's latest volley in its ongoing dispute with the West won't prevent the USS John C. Stennis from reentering the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Stung by additional economic and political sanctions because of its illicit nuclear program, Iran has threatened to close down the Strait of Hormuz so that international oil shipments can't get through.

Washington has said that any attempt to affect the transportation of oil will be met with swiftly.

Meanwhile, Iranian Army Chief Ataollah Salehi reportedly said that the USS John C. Stennis, which is now in the Northern Arabian Sea to help with the war effort in Afghanistan, won't be allowed back into the Persian Gulf.

But Pentagon Press Secretary George Little responded that, "the deployment of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades."

The Pentagon says that Iran keeps making idle threats because of the damage being done to its economy through the latest round of tough sanctions brought on by its ongoing nuclear ambitions.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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