Although the Navy (naturally) denies that any reduction of firepower is the case, records show that the U.S.S. Harry Truman, now the sole aircraft carrier in the region, has spent more time outside the Persian Gulf in the last six months than inside it.
That leaves the USS Truman as the only "24/7" carrier in the Persian Gulf, a vital waterway for world shipments of oil from the Middle East.
Just a year ago, the Navy had placed two carriers in the region.
Yet Retired Vice Adm. Peter Daly, CEO of the United States Naval Institute, said it is “reasonable” to think the Navy is sending a signal by limiting the Truman’s time in the Gulf.
As he put it, “A carrier is an effective symbol and instrument of national power. Its mere presence is deterrence to bad actors and bad behavior, and if necessary, it is an instrument of force. That’s true in the Gulf and that’s true anywhere in the world.”
This all coincides (deny or not) the U.S. attempting to finalize a nuclear deal with Iran. This all coming after reaching the two countries reached an interim accord in November.
But Congress still is debating whether to threaten Iran with additional sanctions should they fail to keep their end of the bargain and comply with the interim deal. The “deal” has lessened sanctions in exchange for Iran’s halting of elements of its nuclear program.
In other words, advantage Iran.
The Hill publication recently researched estimates of how long individual carriers had been in the Gulf. From August 2013 to January 2014, the Truman spent 101 days inside the Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea, with only 45 days inside the Persian Gulf , not including approximately 11 days spent transiting between or in unknown locations.
Operations in the Gulf have been reduced from any previous time in the near past.
It’s difficult to determine precisely the days spent in the Gulf by carriers during 2011 and 2012. It is known that at least one of the two carriers was devoted to keeping the Strait of Hormuz open.
The U.S. 5th Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain added three coastal patrol boats last summer on the Persian Gulf. A report in the Times of Israel said the U.S. planned to have 10 of those ships in the Gulf by early 2014.
Iran considers the U.S. naval presence recently as a nuisance rather than a comfort.
In fact, last weekend Iran sent two “warships” (frigates really) toward the Atlantic Coast in response to the U.S. presence in the Gulf. Sunday, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy Commander Ali Fadavi warned his country would sink a U.S. aircraft carrier if the U.S. took any force against Iran.
Their threats are considered “domestic propaganda” by U.S. Navy officials that dismiss Iran’s bellicose rhetoric. They also argue Iran lacks the ability to even reach the Atlantic Coast.
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