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Monday, March 19, 2012

The U.S. Navy and the Persian Gulf: Ramping up slowly

Iran rattles sabers and the U.S. Navy does a slow ramp up. L.A. Times reports, "Navy says it will add ships to Persian Gulf amid Iran threats":

MHC Coastal Minehunter
The U.S. Navy is upgrading its defensive and offensive capabilities in the Persian Gulf to counter threats from Iran to seize the Strait of Hormuz and block the flow of oil, the chief of naval operations said Friday.

MH-53E Mine-sweeping helicopter
Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert told reporters in Washington that the Navy will add four more mine-sweeping ships and four more CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters with mine-detection capability. The Navy is also sending more underwater unmanned mine-neutralization units to the region.

Cyclone-class Coastal Patrol ship
Greenert said he plans to assign more patrol craft to the gulf, possibly armed with Mark 38 Gatling guns. The same kind of guns might be placed on ships that provide protection for U.S. aircraft carriers or perhaps on the carriers themselves.

U.S. ships have excellent long-range defenses but could use weapons for closer combat, Greenert said.

"It’s like being in an alley with a rifle and maybe what you need is a sawed-off shotgun," he said.
One of the Big Dogs at Sea
The Iranians have boasted that they could "swarm" large U.S. ships with their smaller, fast-moving craft. They have also reportedly been laying mines along their coastline.
My guess, which is exactly that, is that the mine-sweeping stuff is for cleaning up the mess after the "AirSea Battle Concept (ASBC) (modified)"  gets a test run. There is almost no better geographic area to do a little joint air-sea work out.

Or, if required to bust some sort of Iranian attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz in an effort to effect access denial to the Persian Gulf.

This is no rush to war, but a sensible response to the known capabilities of the Iranian forces.

Anti-swarm at sea? SEAD, then kill the swarms from the air. Have we got enought A-10's? See here. Our "swarm" is better than theirs. Or, in a few words:"Find 'em, Blind 'em, Kill 'em" Use all the tools in the box.


  1. Gary Stringer12:36 PM

    All about oil as per, do Iran really pose that much of a threat in the Persian Gulf?

    1. Long term (sans nuclear weapons) probably not, however, they can cause a lot of short term disruption (ref: "tanker wars" and Operation Praying Mantis) and given the current world economy, it would cause some problems, at least for awhile. Best to be prepared to deal with them.
      Mines would be a problem, the Iranians have used them before and they, especially Hertz horn contact mines, are easy to manufacture and emplace. Unfortnately mine sweeping is a slow, lengthy task and the threat of the things can cause insurance rates on merchant vessels to skyrocket, often to the point where merchant lines won't attempt transits to mined areas. Haiphong Harbor and Nicaraugua are good late 20th century examples.

      As was mentioned, we know how to deal with swarms and have since the Battle of Okinawa.

    2. Gary Stringer7:58 AM

      Yeah i see your point, prevention as opposed to reaction is obviously helpful in the long run. Also agree about the mine sweeping that would take too long, but hopefully they won't cause any casualties along the line!