Friday, August 8, 2008

5th Fleet Focus: Naval Rotations Drawing Attention

Several people have noted the rhetoric for Iran is increasing again, and movements by the US Navy are being followed in the media, as to be associated with the topic. This article written by Adam Gonn, and others similar, are stereotypical. There are two different aspects of the discussion, the first of which focuses on aircraft carrier movements.

Two additional United States naval aircraft carriers are heading to the Gulf and the Red Sea, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper Kuwait Times.

Kuwait began finalizing its “emergency war plan” on being told the vessels were bound for the region.
We do not know if the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) is heading to the Persian Gulf, noting only that earlier this week the Reagan CSG deployed from Japan following a port visit. We do know that the Lincoln Carrier Strike Group currently in the Persian Gulf deployed on March 13th, meaning they are about to pass that 4th month mark. Reagan CSG deployed in May, and could be replacing the Lincoln CSG in the Gulf region, but we do not see a scenario where the Navy doesn't have at least one aircraft carrier operating in the Pacific. With the USS George Washington (CVN 73) still delayed due to fire, and the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) just arrived to the US west coast as part of that transition process. This looks like a rotation, not a build up as advertised.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) will be deploying soon, and is heading to the Gulf. It is unclear when that deployment will occur. This is a regularly scheduled deployment that has been scheduled going back at least six months.

The other aspect of the article that is getting some attention is a discussion regarding some naval movements in the Suez Canal.
Meanwhile, the Arabic news agency Moheet reported at the end of July that an unnamed American destroyer, accompanied by two Israeli naval vessels traveled through the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean. A week earlier, a U.S. nuclear submarine accompanied by a destroyer and a supply ship moved into the Mediterranean, according to Moheet.
The unnamed American destroyer in both cases is the USS Momsen (DDG 92), which escorted the USS Dallas (SSN 700) across the Suez Canal. Military.com ran an article that discussed the visit to Cyprus of both ships. As for the Israeli warships, they cross the Suez Canal quite often so it is difficult to tell what they are up to. They don't usually go very far south in the Red Sea, and if they do, they will be noticed. The ships are probably heading to Elat.

We do know the Israeli Navy may soon blow some peace activists out of the water as the activists try to run the Gaza blockade by sea. The peace activists will sail from Cyprus on Friday, and should make next week interesting.

In summery, none of the naval movements appear to have much to do with Iran, although we admit we find the part about Kuwait's "emergency war plan" an interesting twist. There is no way we would be so easily able to track the fleet at sea if the Navy was preparing for war, indeed we are left with the opposite impression. Besides, as we have pointed out many times, the chances of the US or Israel bombing Iran during the Olympics are south of zero. That's what we call the China factor.

If it is going to happen in August, it will happen on the night of the 30th in the Middle East. Consult the heavens, they will tell you why...

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