Offense or Defense? Pentagon Surging Naval Forces Into Persian Gulf

In apparent anticipation of direct threats from Iran, Iranian-backed militants against U.S. forces in Iraq, or even any Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan as U.S. forces withdraw, the Pentagon has surged U.S. naval forces into the region. And it is doing it very publicly.

Earlier I wrote about the pair of B-52 Strategic bombers that flew round trip from the U.S. to the Iranian coast and back, escorted, part way by Saudi and other allied Arab jet fighters. Before that, the USS Nimitz strike group went into the North Arabian Sea, on the other side of the Strait of Hormuz.

As The Drive explained, Nimitz was there “ostensibly to be in a position to support the troop withdrawals from both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Nimitz supercarrier is currently operating farther south off the coast of Somalia to support the U.S. troop withdrawals there, but still in close proximity to respond to other scenarios.

Now, we see a very public and rare display of U.S. submarine power entering the Gulf, in the form of the USS Georgia  one of four impressive Ohio class guided-missile submarines, or SSGNs.

Georgia transited from the Gulf of Oman into the Persian Gulf, on the surface where it was clearly visible, by way of the tense Strait of Hormuz.

The Drive notes that “Georgia passed through the Strait of Hormuz on Dec. 21, 2020, accompanied by two Ticonderoga class cruisers, USS Port Royal and USS Philippine Sea.”

These multi-mission submarines are massive, converted ballistic nuclear missile subs (SSBNs). They are in high demand and provide significant capabilities. They are also very rarely seen in the Gulf. The Drive adds:

The Ohio class SSGNs are best known for their ability to carry up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. However, they typically only carry around 100 of these weapons – a still impressive amount – and are actually multi-mission platforms capable of carrying special operations forces and other highly specialized equipment, including various unmanned platforms, all while acting as discreet underwater intelligence fusion nodes and command centers.

In the pictures of the boat heading into the Persian Gulf, a dry deck shelter, primarily for deploying special operators underwater, including in mini-submarines, is visible mounted behind Georgia’s sail. The SSGNs can carry up to two dry dock shelters at one time to support relatively special operations contingents that can be deployed aboard.

What can these impressive boats do? The Drive explains:

Georgia’s diverse capabilities give the Navy a powerful tool to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions along the Iranian coastline, as well as throughout the rest of the body of water, while remaining largely hidden from potential adversaries. This is extremely beneficial given the constrained nature of this body of water, which inherently presents greater risks for ships operating on the surface. Iranian forces, including shore-based anti-ship cruise and ballistic missilessmall boat swarmssmall submarines, and naval mines, among other capabilities, present very real threats to American and other warships in the region.

Should a conflict arise, Georgia could engage a wide array of targets with Tomahawks, including ones deep inside Iran or those belonging to Iranian proxies, while remaining better protected below the waves. Basically, draw a 1,000 miles circle around the boat’s location and any suitable targets that lay inside of it are potentially within reach of its cruise missiles. The submarine could also launch special operations teams to conduct raids, gather intelligence, or conduct other missions ashore, as well.

With President Trump’s demonstrated resolve to strike Iran boldly when U.S. forces are attacked, the Mullahs in Tehran, and its proxies are officially on notice. Attack at your own peril.

Paul Crespo

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.


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23 days ago

Anybody else hear of the Chinese ships off of our east coast, or the Chinese troops who were OK’d by Canada that are strung along the border of the U.S.?

23 days ago
Reply to  grinnie

I’ve heard about the 20,000 Chinese troops in Vancouver, only a 2 1/2 hour drive from Seattle. With allies like Canada, who needs enemies?

Grampa Mullan
Grampa Mullan
22 days ago
Reply to  grinnie

nation often cooperate with practice and show other nations part of their strength hopping that they will slip out something unintended. when I was in the Navy we “hosted” some games with the Russians. they had the submarine boats that we would find in exercises in the Golf around Cuba supersizing on just how well we got along with them. we made some friends. one Russian met a woman here and after ten years of application was able to immigrate and marry her. had he been a higher rank in their Navy it couldn’t have happened. it isn’t the people of the nations that create the conflict it comes from the arrogant, narrow minded leaders who believe themselves great leaders who cause most of the worlds problems. “words of wisdom” from a great mind (HA) Grampa

23 days ago

ANY attack on American troops should be considered directly from IRAN and a return response immediately issued on a hundred military targets !

Grampa Mullan
Grampa Mullan
22 days ago

With the show of force of the Chinese. our president has whipped out his for comparison. an act not forgotten for centuries. even kings would line up their fighting forces and hold armed practices to award the prestige of being the best fighter. today the rewards come from the fact that we don’t need to fight it has become known as sword rattling that words just don’t have. while no one believes that the men on either side would be swayed from fighting for the men of all nations are the heroes they depend upon to defend the country and their people. it is only the leaders that are not willing to risk such losses and thus will sit and talk to each other to come to agreement. it isn’t always true that the strongest knowing their advantage will want peace. we are still burdened with a few that believe that only they can lead the world and will go forward forcing wars. These have little regard for life or respect for the people that defend them. the larger nations like China must show their force for to control their people as much as it is to show strength to other nations. today we see the attempt to expand their nations control of the sea. using boundary laws set centuries ago and modified decades ago to fit new abilities and power. sadly our government must have these threats to maintain our military. the logic with radicle nations don’t always work. will our nation be in danger with Biden as president?.————-Grampa


[…] into the Red Sea in another very rare move. The U.S. submarine transit which I wrote about here, is a clear message to Iran not to retaliate for the U.S. strike on Iranian terror master Qasem […]

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