Not just a provocation, but an actual drill for future scenario…..
Iranian rocket launches near U.S. carrier: More than just a provocation?
By J.E. Dyer on January 1, 2016 at 12:07 am
On Saturday, 27 December, an Iranian fast attack craft reportedly conducted a short-notice rocket launching exercise in the vicinity of USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) as the carrier transited the Strait of Hormuz, heading inbound to the Persian Gulf.
An Iranian attack craft swarm from a recent naval exercise. (Image via aviationintel.com)
Iran’s attack craft are small boats equipped with machine guns, rocket launchers, and in some cases anti-ship cruise missiles and/or torpedoes (see here for a summary from 2013). They are operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN), and patrol the Persian Gulf constantly. They also appear in most of Iran’s naval exercises.
At least one rocket hit the water some 1,500 yards from the carrier. Also in company with Truman were USS Bulkeley (DDG-84), an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer, and a French frigate (probably the Aquitaine, which left its homeport of Brest on 17 December headed for the Persian Gulf). Bulkeley would have been serving as the carrier’s main escort, defending the air space around the Truman during the critical strait-transit period.
A military spokesman noted that the Iranians’ action on Saturday was provocative and unsafe:
“The IRGCN’s actions were highly provocative,” Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, said Wednesday in a statement.
“Firing weapons so close to passing coalition ships and commercial traffic within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane is unsafe, unprofessional, and inconsistent with international maritime law.”
Military Times’ report indicates that the Iranians gave only 23 minutes’ notice of their launch exercise, which apparently was announced by voice on the international bridge-to-bridge radio channel. For a live fire exercise, this short notice is extraordinary, and out of keeping with sound, conventional practice. That’s especially the case in a restricted area like the Strait of Hormuz, where even the shortest-range weapons pose a potential danger to innocent shipping.
This graphic shows the maritime traffic separation scheme for the Strait of Hormuz. On 27 Dec, Truman and her escorts would have been in or near one of the westbound transit lanes depicted here. (Graphic: Sean P. Henseler, JAGC, USN (Ret.), U.S. Naval War College, in an article in MOC Warfighter in April 2013)
Map 1. This map graphic shows the maritime traffic separation scheme for the Strait of Hormuz. On 27 Dec, Truman and her escorts would have been in or near one of the westbound transit lanes depicted here. (Graphic: Sean P. Henseler, JAGC, USN (Ret.), U.S. Naval War College, in an article in MOC Warfighter in April 2013)
The intent to provoke is clear. But beyond marveling over that, and observing that the Iranians think Obama’s a patsy, we need to reflect on the nature of the action itself: that is, launching rockets from an attack craft near the carrier, in the Strait of Hormuz.