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Friday, January 13, 2012

Strait of Hormuz: Triple Carriers (Briefly?)

Let's see now, one carrier leaves the Arabian/Persian Gulf and hangs about the Northern Indian Ocean/Arabian Sea because its replacement is inbound, the replacement has nearly arrived, and a third is lurking about the area.

USS John C. Stennis
Why, that's three of the big beasts in the region. Hmmm. What message does this send to the self-proclaimed "gatekeepers" of the Strait of Hormuz? Well, none if you believe this sort of headline, "U.S. military moves carriers, denies Iran link":
The U.S. military said on Wednesday that a new aircraft carrier strike group had arrived in the Arabian Sea and that another was on its way to the region, but denied any link to recent tensions with Iran and portrayed the movements as routine.

USS Carl Vinson
The shift in the powerful U.S. naval assets comes at a moment of heightened tensions with Iran, which has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz - the world's most important oil shipping lane - if U.S. and EU sanctions over its nuclear program cut off its oil exports.

The U.S. military has said it will halt any blockade of the strategic strait and the top U.S. naval officer acknowledged on Tuesday that preparing for a potential conflict there was something that "keeps me awake at night."

Still, the Pentagon denied any direct link between recent tensions and the movement of aircraft carriers.

USS Abraham Lincoln
"I don't want to leave anybody with the impression that we're somehow (speeding) two carriers over there because we're concerned about what happened, you know, today in Iran. It's just not the case," said Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.

Military officials said the USS Carl Vinson arrived in the Arabian Sea on Monday to replace the outgoing USS John C. Stennis carrier strike group, which Iran last week warned not to return to the Gulf after departing in late December.

The Stennis was due to return to its home port in San Diego but the Pentagon did not say when that would happen.

Another carrier strike group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, concluded a port visit to Thailand on Tuesday and was now in the Indian Ocean. It is on track to join the Vinson in the Central Command area of operations, which begins in the neighboring Arabian Sea.
Why would anyone think there was a message involved?

By the way, carriers do not travel alone. They have escort services.

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