Archive for the ‘Iranian navy’ category

Iran’s Fast Boats Stop Harassing U.S. Navy, Baffling Military

January 26, 2018


The U.S. says Iran has halted the harassment of U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf by boats like this Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps speedboat, shown in 2012. Photo: Atta Kenare/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

By Gordon Lubold in Washington and Nancy A. Youssef in Kuwait City Updated Jan. 25, 2018 4:08 p.m. ET The Wall Street Journal

Source: Iran’s Fast Boats Stop Harassing U.S. Navy, Baffling Military

{Are we tired of winning yet? Nope…MAGA – LS}

Tehran halts dangerous encounters in Persian Gulf amid tensions over nuclear deal.

The Iranian military has halted the routine harassment by its armed “fast boats” of U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. military said, a turnabout that officials welcomed but were at a loss to explain.

The boats for at least two years would dart toward the U.S. vessels as they passed through the Persian Gulf, risking miscalculation, but haven’t done so for five months, U.S. military officials said.

The officials said they hoped the respite would continue. “I hope it’s because we have messaged our readiness…and that it isn’t tolerable or how professional militaries operate,” Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who heads U.S. Central Command, told reporters traveling with him in the Middle East this week. Iranian officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The fast boats, typically armed with .50 caliber machine guns and rocket launchers, have come within shooting distance of American naval vessels, encounters that grew routine even though each one presents potential dangers to American vessels transiting through international waters.

In some of the more serious incidents, Iranian crews have directed spotlights at ship and aircraft crews, potentially blinding pilots as they conduct operations, according to U.S. military officials. In one case, an Iranian boat pointed a weapon at an American helicopter flying off a Navy vessel, officials said. In the most serious incidents, U.S. vessels have fired warning shots in return.

The Iranian boats are typically crewed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, U.S. military officials have said. The IRGC is Iran’s elite military unit and reports directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Since January 2016, there has been an average of more than two “unsafe or unprofessional” incidents each month, according to the U.S. military. There have been 50 such incidents in the last two years, officials said.

But in response to a query, U.S. military officials said there have been no such incidents since August 2017.

The apparent shift in Iranian behavior comes as an international nuclear agreement with Tehran is teetering as President Donald Trump threatens to end U.S. sanctions relief provided to Tehran under the deal, signed under President Barack Obama.

Washington’s European allies are discussing ways of heightening sanctions against Iran for actions not directly related to the country’s nuclear program.

Gen. Votel said that the abatement in the Persian Gulf didn’t alone signal a broader “strategic shift” by Iran, noting activities such as Iran’s support of Houthi rebels in Yemen. “I think we have to look at Iran in totality,” Gen. Votel said.

The U.S. has publicly criticized what it says is Iranian backing of the Houthis. Iran also has sent forces to Syria and backs militants operating there on behalf of the Assad regime.

Military officials noted that while Iranian harassment in the Gulf had declined, the country’s forces weren’t idle. Iran has been observed by the U.S. conducting activities that approach but stop short of what would be considered harassment, a U.S. military official explained.

Officials at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, in Manama, Bahrain, were loath to guess the reasons behind it.

“We are not going to speculate on the reason for this recent positive trend in interactions, though we hope it will continue in the future,” said Cmdr. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, in Manama, Bahrain.

Ali Vaez, Iran project director at the International Crisis Group, said the decrease in harassment is part of a broader pattern by Tehran to refrain from provoking the U.S. and providing fodder for the Trump administration to blame them for regional instability.

“I think they understand the administration’s policy at this stage is to put the spotlight on Iranians and portray them as the source of all evil in the region,” he said. “The Iranians are certainly part of the problem in the region, but they’d like to be portrayed as part of the solution, not just the problem.”

The lull in harassment coincides with an internal directive last summer in which Mr. Vaez said Tehran’s Supreme National Security Council had ordered the IRGC to stand its ground in the region, but not to harass U.S. Navy ships. The council is presided over by President Hassan Rouhani but Mr. Khamenei has the final say.

Capt. Urban said the U.S. Navy hadn’t modified its operations in the region and would continue to operate “wherever international law allows.”

The last incident, in August, occurred when an Iranian drone flew in the vicinity of aircraft conducting night operations on the USS Nimitz.

Capt. Urban expressed concern about Iranians’ use of drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, to harass American vessels.

“Even with the decreased incidents, we remain concerned with the increased number of Iranian UAVs operating in international airspace at night without navigation lights or an active transponder as would be expected according to international norms,” he said. “We continue to advocate for all maritime forces to conform to international maritime customs, standards and laws.”

The U.S. military currently is participating in a joint exercise called Native Fury with the United Arab Emirates, designed for training in ways to get essential supplies into the Gulf region over land if the Strait of Hormuz was ever blocked, as Iran has threatened to do in the past. Some military experts see Native Fury as a message to Iran.

It is “a demonstration of our resolve,” Gen. Votel said. The Iranians also are conducting a two-day exercise in the Strait of Hormuz.

 

Iran Sending Warships to Atlantic Ocean Amid Massive New Military Buildup

August 14, 2017

Iran Sending Warships to Atlantic Ocean Amid Massive New Military Buildup, Washington Free Beacon, August 14, 2017

Iranian military ship and light replenishment ship are seen docked for refueling / Getty Images)

Iran is preparing to send a flotilla of warships to the Atlantic Ocean following the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, according to Iranian leaders, who say the military moves are in response to recent efforts by the United States to impose a package of new economic sanctions on Tehran.

The military investment and buildup comes following weeks of tense interactions between Iran and the United States in regional waters, where Iranian military ships have carried out a series of dangerous maneuvers near U.S. vessels. The interactions have roiled U.S. military leaders and prompted tough talk from the Trump administration, which is currently examining potential ways to leave the landmark nuclear deal.

Iran’s increasingly hostile behavior also follows a little-noticed United Nations report disclosing that Iran has repeatedly violated international accords banning ballistic missile work. Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress and some policy experts also believe that Iran has been violating some provisions in the nuclear agreement governing nuclear-related materials.

With tensions over sanctions and Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement growing, Iranian parliamentary members voted to increase war spending by more than $500 million. This is at least the second recent cash influx to Iran’s military since the landmark nuclear deal that unfroze billions in Iranian assets and saw the United States awarding Tehran millions in cash.

Iranian lawmakers reportedly shouted “death to America” as they passed the measure, which boosts spending to Iran’s contested missile programs by around $260 million.

The bill also imposes sanctions on U.S. military officials in the region. Additionally, Iranian officials are moving to set up courts to prosecute the United States for the recent sanctions, which Iran claims are in violation of the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, following several aggressive encounters with U.S. military vessels in the Persian Gulf, Iranian military leaders announced that they would be leading a flotilla of warships into the Atlantic Ocean.

“No military official in the world thought that we can go round Africa to the Atlantic Ocean through the Suez Canal but we did it as we had declared that we would go to the Atlantic and its Western waters,” Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying over the weekend.

“We moved into the Atlantic and will go to its Western waters in the near future,” Sayyari said.

U.S. military officials reported Monday yet another “unsafe” encounter with an Iranian drone that was shadowing a U.S. carrier in the Persian Gulf region and reportedly came close enough to an American F-18 jet to risk the pilot’s life.

As with other similar encounters during the past months, the Iranian craft did not respond to repeated radio calls by the United States. While the drone is said to have been unarmed, it is capable of carrying missiles.

Iranian leaders have been adamant that the country will not halt its work on ballistic missile technology, which could be used to carry nuclear weapons.

The United States has issued several new packages of sanctions as a result of this behavior, but U.N. members have yet to address the issue, despite recent reporting that found Iran is violating international accords barring such behavior.

“Little-noticed biannual reporting by the UN Secretary General alleges that Iran is repeatedly violating these non-nuclear provisions,” Iran Watch, a nuclear watchdog group, reported on Monday.

“Thus far, the United States has responded to such violations with sanctions and designations of Iranian and foreign entities supporting Tehran’s ballistic missile development,” the organization found. “However, the U.N. and its member states have not responded. More must be done to investigate allegations of noncompliance and to punish violations of the resolution.”

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that Iran’s recent behavior shows the regime has not moderated since the nuclear deal was implemented. The Obama administration sold the deal in part on promises that it could help bring Tehran into the community of nations.

“Every time the Islamic Republic has cash, it chooses guns over butter,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon. “What the [nuclear deal] and subsequent hostage ransom did was fill Iran’s coffers, and now we see the result of that.”

“What [former President Barack] Obama and [former Secretary of State John] Kerry essentially did was gamble that if they funded a mad scientist’s lab, the scientist would rather make unicorns rather than nukes,” Rubin said. “News flash for the echo chamber: Iranian reformist are just hardliners who smile more. Neither their basic philosophy nor their commitment to terrorism have changed.”

Iran gains Mediterranean bases in Italy and Syria

September 25, 2016

Iran gains Mediterranean bases in Italy and Syria, DEBKAfile, September 25, 2016

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As part of Iran’s drive to rule the strategic waves of regional waters, Tehran has negotiated a naval exchange deal with Rome for its warships to be berthed in Italian ports, DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal.

In this context, the US Pentagon and Navy chiefs once again urged Israel to update and enlarge its war fleet, which they said was “full of holes” to catch up with the rapidly changing conditions opposite its shores, where Russia, Iran and Egypt are building up armadas of warships that are bigger and more advanced than ever before.

The American warning to Israel was first reported by DEBKAfile Aug. 11 (Urgent Israeli Navy order for new US coastal craft), after Moscow posted its Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean, and Egypt took delivery of theAnwar El Sadat, the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers bearing 92 choppers, purchased from France. The second, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was handed over on Sept. 16.

Israel’s naval inferiority was further underlined last week when Iran’s Navy commander, Rear-Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, went into action to carry out supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s orders to acquire naval bases in Syria and Italy for establishing a permanent Iranian fleet presence in the Mediterranean.

The admiral moved fast. The Italian Navy chief Rear-Admiral Roberto Chia Marcella visited Tehran on Sept. 5. and Saturday, Sept. 24, the first Italian frigate, Euro, docked at Bandar Abbas, home to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards command.

Until now, the farthest point reached by the Iranian Navy was the Gulf of Aden.

The intervention of the fleets of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Yemen war pushed the Iranian navy back from its thrust to expand its presence towards the Mediterranean. Their joint action evicted the Iranian navy from Yemen’s Red Sea ports, and prevented Tehran from capturing the strategic islands in the mouth of the Bab-al-Mandab Strait at the entrance to the Red Sea.

Today, DEBKA Weekly’s military sources note, the Iranian Navy is hard put to obey the ayatollah’s orders, lacking the warships and advanced submarines for this new strategic mission. Iran’s warships can certainly not stand up to Egypt’s Mistral-class helicopter carriers or find answers for the Dolphin-class submarines that Germany has sold Israel.

Hence the approach to Rome to extend the Iranian navy’s capacity and range of operations.

The two admirals’ talks in Tehran ended in a vague agreement “to strengthen bilateral ties.”

Iran, however, has the money and the will to invest in new warships, while Italy has the will to build such ships for the Iranian fleet. The Italians are, moreover, not averse to allowing the Iranian fleet to use their Mediterranean bases.

Besides the financial benefits, Italy is additionally motivated by the steady reduction in the number of warships that the US Sixth Fleet maintains at its ports. It has been nearly a year since a US aircraft carrier anchored at an Italian port. Italy’s Defense Ministry and its military command understand that if the US president who succeedsBarack Obama in January continues the policy of withdrawing American forces from the Middle East, Italian naval bases will be emptied of warships.

Rear-Admiral Marcella’s comments during his visit to Tehran are worth noting: He said “In the future, we will witness Italian vessels berthing at (Iran’s) southern harbors falling within the Iranian Navy’s sphere of operation.” He added, “It is certain that these talks and meetings will lead to the development of interaction and cooperation in different military areas between the two countries of Iran and Italy.”

For his part, Iranian Navy Commander Sayyari said “Italy enjoys around 8,000 kilometers (4,970 miles) of maritime border and the Mediterranean is also strategically very significant, given the fact that it connects the important Suez Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar.”

These words served to delineate the waters where Italian-made Iranian warships were likely to operate in the future. The Euro’s arrival at Bandar Abbas Saturday, Sept. 24 lent substance to those words.

Iran: Anti-American Propaganda

September 1, 2016

Iran: Anti-American Propaganda, MEMRI-TV via YouTube

(H/t LS for the video link. — DM)

U.S. Navy Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Vessels

August 25, 2016

U.S. Navy Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Vessels, Washington Free Beacon via YouTube, August 25, 2016

Humor | Navy to issue knee pads to sailors deploying to Persian Gulf

July 1, 2016

Navy to issue knee pads to sailors deploying to Persian Gulf, Duffel Blog, July 1, 2016

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“It’s not easy keeping your hands on your head while your boat bounces on the wake of a squadron of [Iranian Revolutionary Guard] speedboats,” Richardson added. “These knee pads will let our sailors show our adversaries that we are made of sterner stuff than they think.”

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WASHINGTON — Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced today that all Navy personnel deploying to the Persian Gulf will be issued knee pads, effective immediately.

The new safety initiative follows in the wake of a widely-publicized incident in January, in which a commander of the riverine boat USS Bergdahl ordered his sailors to kneel for several hours, in violation of Navy, OSHA and Coast Guard regulations.

“Osteoarthritis is a real problem,” Mabus said. “We can’t have our guys spend this much time on their knees without appropriate ‘knee-pro.’”

“Have you ever knelt on non-skid [paint] on a rolling deck?” Mabus added. “It’s absolute agony.”

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson noted that Navy leaders need to do a better job looking out for the joint health of sailors.

“And also their dignity, but we don’t have to shell out money to pay for restoration of dignity,” he said.

“It’s not easy keeping your hands on your head while your boat bounces on the wake of a squadron of [Iranian Revolutionary Guard] speedboats,” Richardson added. “These knee pads will let our sailors show our adversaries that we are made of sterner stuff than they think.”

Capt. Kyle Moses, commodore of Commander Task Force (CTF) 56, whose boats were involved in the incident, was said to be “relieved.”

Mabus concluded the announcement by thanking the Marine Corps for volunteering to pay for the Navy’s kneepads out of the Corps’ birthday ball budget.

 

Navy investigation finds US sailors captured in Iran were unprepared, Iran broke the law

June 30, 2016

Navy investigation finds US sailors captured in Iran were unprepared, Iran broke the law, AP via Fox News, June 30, 2016

Navy boat in Iranian watersUS sailors captured by Iran face disciplinary action

The lengthy investigation concluded that while the boat crews erred in entering Iranian waters, the Iranians violated international law by impeding the boats’ “innocent passage,” and violated U.S. sovereign immunity by boarding and seizing the boats.

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Weak leadership, poor judgment, a lack of “warfighting toughness” and a litany of errors led to the embarrassing capture and detention by Iran of 10 U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf in January, according to a Navy investigation released Thursday.

Six officers and three enlisted sailors have been disciplined or face disciplinary action.

The trouble began even before the sailors left port in Kuwait aboard two 50-foot boats on a short-notice, 300-mile journey to Bahrain. They were delayed, unprepared, poorly supervised and ill-suited for the mission, the report said.

At least one sailor had been up all night with boat repairs. Their higher headquarters failed to arrange air or surface monitoring of the boats’ transit. Such monitoring “would likely have prevented” the sailors’ capture by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, according to the report.

The Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson, was presenting the investigation’s results at a Pentagon news conference.

The lengthy investigation concluded that while the boat crews erred in entering Iranian waters, the Iranians violated international law by impeding the boats’ “innocent passage,” and violated U.S. sovereign immunity by boarding and seizing the boats.