US sails nuclear-powered submarine through Strait of Hormuz amid Iran tensions

The guided-missile submarine USS Georgia, front, with the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal, transit the Strait of Hormuz in Persian Gulf on December 21, 2020 (US Navy)

Bryant Harris

The National  /  December 21, 2020

The US Navy announced that the ‘USS Georgia’ and two cruisers have been deployed in Gulf.

The US Navy announced on Monday that it has deployed a nuclear-powered, guided-missile submarine to the Arabian Gulf as tensions with Iran continue to mount.

It said that the USS Georgia submarine was accompanied by two guided-missile cruisers: the USS Port Royal and the USS Philippine Sea as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz.

“Georgia’s presence in the US 5th Fleet area of operations demonstrates the US Navy’s ability to sail and operate wherever international law allows,” the Navy said.

“As an inherently flexible manoeuvre force, capable of supporting routine and contingency operations, Georgia’s presence demonstrates the United States’ commitment to regional partners and maritime security with a full spectrum of capabilities to remain ready to defend against any threat at any time.”

The USS Georgia can hold up to 156 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and carry as many as 66 special operations forces.

The rare statement comes after Iran vowed revenge last month for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and ahead of the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s strike on Iranian General Qassem Suleimani.

The US has vowed to retaliate should Iran launch any attacks amid the anniversary of Suleimani’s death.

 “We are prepared to defend ourselves, our friends and partners in the region, and we’re prepared to react if necessary,” Gen Kenneth McKenzie, who oversees US forces in the Middle East, told reporters on Sunday.

“My assessment is we are in a very good position and we’ll be prepared for anything the Iranians or their proxies acting for them might choose to do.”

After the January assassination of Suleimani in Iraq, Tehran launched a missile barrage at sites hosting US forces in Iraq, resulting in traumatic brain injuries to 110 American troops but no deaths. Tehran also continued to use its proxy militias in Iraq to carry out attacks on US forces.

Several Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq announced that they would cease attacks on US forces after President Trump’s decision to reduce US forces from approximately 3,000 to about 2,500 troops.

However, at least three rockets were launched at the US embassy in Baghdad on Sunday as Gen McKenzie toured the region. Iraq has blamed the attack on “an outlaw group,” though no militia has yet claimed responsibility.

The US has drawn down its staff presence at its Iraq embassy ahead of the anniversary of Suleimani’s killing.

Bryant Harris – Correspondent, Washington DC