A nuclear-powered US submarine has passed through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Persian Gulf in an apparent threat to Iran, while an Israeli sub reportedly made a similar incursion into the Red Sea.
In a rare operations announcement, the US Navy said on Monday that the sub had passed through the narrow, strategically vital waterway between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula amid rising tensions with Tehran.
The Navy’s 5th Fleet based in Bahrain said the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia was accompanied by two surface warships.
At least a fifth of the world’s oil supplies travel through this bottleneck and it is heavily patrolled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ships, which has led to stand-offs with US naval forces operating in the area in the past.
The submarine’s presence in these waterways signals, “the US commitment to regional partners and maritime security”, the navy said, “demonstrating its readiness to defend against any threat at any time”.
The unusual transit through the Persian Gulf’s shallow waters was interpreted as underscoring American military might in the region, following the killing last month of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist named by the West as the leader of the Islamic Republic’s disbanded military nuclear programme and which Tehran has threatened to avenge, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier this month, the US Air Force flew two nuclear-capable bomber aircraft to the Middle East in a mission described as a message of deterrence to Iran.
Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported on Monday evening that one of Israel’s submarines transited the Suez Canal last week, with Egypt’s approval. However, the Kan report cited “Arab intelligence sources” while the Israel Defense Forces officially declined to comment.