Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has released several close-up photos of the US Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Nimitz as well as other ships from its strike group. The carrier battle group passed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf last week, making some analysts suspect that the stage could be set for a ‘Tonkin Gulf’ incident given the proximity of the US elections and other developments in the region.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday, IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri said a domestically produced drone detected the US carrier strike group before the flotilla cruised through the Strait of Hormuz and into the waters of the Persian Gulf.
The military vessels detected by the Iranian drone were USS Nimitz aircraft carrier along with its flotilla of ships, including two destroyers with identification numbers 114 and 104, battle cruisers 58 and 59, two patrol frigates with identification numbers 9 and 12, and a coast guard cutter with code 1333…
On the same day, 188 new naval drones and helicopters were added to the IRGC navy’s fleet of aircraft.
The IRGC conducted a large-scale aerial and naval drill off the strategic Strait of Hormuz and in the Persian Gulf in July, including rehearsing the execution of countermeasures against US aircraft carrier threats in the region. LINK
According to the US Navy, the 100,000-ton warship, along with two guided-missile cruisers and a guided-missile destroyer, passed through Hormuz Strait and entered the Persian Gulf on September 18.
The IRGC published images of the US warships on its twitter page and reiterated that the warships’ moves are being closely monitored.
#IRGC released aerial surveillance images of the #US aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in #PersianGulf waters saying all movements of the American fleet are being monitored by IRGC navy drones pic.twitter.com/KaaRkzR076
— Tasnim News Agency (@Tasnimnews_EN) September 23, 2020
The photos show close up images of the Nimitz’s flight deck, upon which are parked dozens of F/A-18 Hornets, at least one E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft and one SH-60 Seahawk helicopter, which can be used for anything from submarine hunting to search and rescue operations.
Military Times asked the Navy about the incident, and a spokeswoman for US Naval Forces Central Command told the publication: “There have been no unsafe or unprofessional interactions with the Iranians since April 15.”
That was the day around ten IRGC speedboats circled around several US warships located towards the northern end of the Persian Gulf, with video and photos of the incident published by the IRGC and the US Navy afterward. LINK
After the incident US President Donald Trump ordered US warships in the area to “shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
— U.S. 5th Fleet (@US5thFleet) April 15, 2020
Tehran has made sure the crews of US warships deployed to the Persian Gulf know that they can’t count on having their usual ‘full spectrum dominance’ impunity from retaliation in the area. In addition to sending out speedboats to carry out manoeuvres in close proximity to the hostile warships, Iran has conducted close range drone fly-bys on numerous occasions, including in January 2016, August 2017 and April 2019. LINK
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