Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The USS John C. Stennis - Ramping Up the Rhetoric in the Persian Gulf

According to the Wall Street Journal, a United States aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS John C. Stennis departed from Singapore on November 28, 2018 and is currently sailing in the Indian Ocean south of Sri Lanka towards the Persian Gulf where should arrive by the end of the week as shown here:

Here is a graphic from the United States Naval Institute showing the location of all of America's deployed carrier strike and amphibious ready groups:

Here is a photo of the John C. Stennis from the carrier's Facebook page:

The John C. Stennis (CVN 74)was commissioned in December 1995 and is the fifth of ten Nimitz-class aircraft carriers built.  It is a nuclear powered carrier equipped with two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors capable of reaching a surface speed of 30 knots or 35 miles per hour and an unlimited range.  It is 1092 feet long, has a beam of 252 feet and a draught of 41 feet.  It has 5680 crew members.

It has the following armament:

1.) 2 x Mk 57 Mod3 NATO RIM-7 Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missile launchers

2.) 2 x RIM-116 RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) short-range surface-to-air missile launchers

3.) 3 x 20mm Mk 15 Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System)

The John C. Stennis is equipped with a straight flight deck to the bow of the ship and has four steam-powered catapults which power air from the two forward straight flight decks and two from the angled decks.  It has 90 aircraft of various makes and types including the following:

1.) F/A-18 Hornet

2.) EA-6B Prowler

3.) MH-60R

4.) MH-60S

5.) E-2C Hawkeye

Interestingly, the Stennis received her first deployment in 1998 when she sailed to the Persian Gulf to enforce the no-fly zone over Iraq.  

Here is a video that will provide you with more background on the John C. Stennis:

Here is what the Wall Street Journal had to say about the reasons for the John C. Stennis' appearance in the Persian Gulf:

"The USS John C. Stennis and accompanying ships will arrive by this week’s end, the first such military presence in the region in eight months, the officials said, to exhibit a show of force against Iran. Tensions between Washington and Tehran are growing over renewed Trump administration sanctions on the country, Iranian-backed groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen and Iran’s latest ballistic missile tests.

The naval deployment also will support the continuing war against remnants of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and the U.S. war in Afghanistan, where the U.S. and Afghan militaries have ramped up airstrikes in an effort to press the Taliban into peace talks and rid the country of what they consider irreconcilable fighters, the officials said.

The Stennis is scheduled to remain in the region for about two months, the officials said, spending most of that time in the Persian Gulf. Its presence “certainly provides a deterrence” against any potentially hostile Iranian activity in the region’s waters, one of the officials said. (my bold)

Let's now look at what Iran has to say about this development, particularly given that the appearance of an aircraft carrier fleet could be the first stage the formation of a naval blockade to prevent the passage of Iranian oil through the Persian Gulf.  Here are some quotes from an address that Iran's President Rohani gave on December 4, 2018:

The United States said it would stop Iran’s oil export and business relations, making Iran isolated, but it could not do it and it won’t be able to sever our relations with the peoples of the region”.

“Today, is the day of the historic test of the Iranian nation,” Dr Rouhani added, “After 40 years of fighting a cruel enemy like the US, we have achieved great victories”.

“The United States was after a coup in this country, separating Iran and Khuzestan, and putting the country under pressure through sanctions, but it was never successful in pursuing its goals,” he added.

The President also said, “A powerful Iran is intolerable for the Americans and Zionists and the great Iranian nation have never yielded to them and won’t do so”.

We will sell our oil and they can’t stop us from doing this, said Rouhani adding, “If the US wants to stop our oil sales, no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf”
Stating that, “The US won’t be able to sever our relations with peoples of the region,” he continued, “We will develop our relations with our neighbouring and Islamic countries and the world”.

“America is not able to sever our business relations in the world and the region and they must understand that this land will keep its cultural, political and economic relations with the countries of the region and the world,” he added.

Dr Rouhani also went on to state that Iran will develop its relations with its neighbouring and Islamic countries and the world, saying, “The US is trying to separate Iran from its neighbours, Europe, China and India, promoting Iranophobia, while we won’t be enemy to our neighbours”.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s relations with the world will develop day by day,” continued the president.

Stating that the United States has been unsuccessful against the Iranian nation, he continued, “In US’ animosity towards the people of Iran, world countries and politicians have not supported them except for a few small countries and the Zionist Regime”. (my bolds) 

Let's close with two quotes regarding the deployment of the John C. Stennis:

1.) PressTV (Iranian news network) - 

"Iran has repeatedly warned foreign military forces in the Persian Gulf that any act of transgression into Iran’s territorial waters would be met with an immediate and befitting response."

2.) A United States Department of Defense official:

 "The Stennis will provide a lot of great flexibility. " 

Read into both of those comments whatever you wish but to me, it looks like the drums of another war in the Middle East are beating.

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