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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An American nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine traversed the strategically vital waterway between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula on Monday, the U.S. Navy said, a rare announcement that comes amid rising tensions with Iran.
The Navy’s 5th Fleet based in Bahrain said the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia, accompanied by two other warships, passed through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passageway through which a fifth of the world’s oil supplies travel.
The unusual transit in the Persian Gulf’s shallow waters, aimed at underscoring American military might in the region, follows 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 program. It also comes some two weeks before the anniversary of the American drone strike in January that killed top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iran has promised to seek revenge for both killings.
The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine’s presence in Mideast waterways signals the U.S. Navy’s “commitment to regional partners and maritime security,” the Navy said, demonstrating its readiness “to defend against any threat at any time.” The USS Georgia is armed with 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and can host up to 66 special operations forces, the Navy added.
Earlier this month, the U.S. military flew two bomber aircraft to the Middle East in a mission that U.S. officials described as a message of deterrence to Iran. The displays of military might are meant to signal the United States’ continuing commitment to the Middle East even as President Donald Trump’s administration withdraws thousands of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 5th Fleet covers an area of 2.5 million square miles (6.5 million square kilometers), running through the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.
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