The lack thereof……
Iran’s rockets at sea: Exploiting the seam between international ‘law’ and ‘leadership’
By J.E. Dyer on January 11, 2016 at 11:22 pm
If you were wondering if those rockets fired by the Iranian fast boat in the Strait of Hormuz in December were as much of a provocation as the U.S. Navy said they were, wonder no more.
Um, yeah. That’s an Iranian fast boat launching a rocket, dangerously close to a tanker ship. (Image: U.S. Navy video via AP)
They were – and then some.
In response to a FOIA request by Military Times, the Navy this weekend released infrared video of the rocket launches. The video was obtained by a Seahawk helicopter (probably from USS Bulkeley, DDG-84, the Aegis destroyer serving as escort for the carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75)).
We catch a glimpse of Bulkeley between the :04 and :06 mark in the video, making a turn a couple of thousand yards astern of an oil tanker, which the Seahawk’s IR sensor then zooms in on. The tanker lurks in the foreground (although not always visible) for most of the rest of the video.
If the tanker’s crew got through this event without any heart attacks, more power to them. Many of the news media have primly stated that “the Navy said” one of the Iranian small boats, which are assembled a couple hundred yards off the tanker’s starboard bow, launched rockets – seeming to suggest that the media outlets are having to take the Navy’s word for that. But looking at the video (below), there’s nothing dubious about it.
The Iranian boat unquestionably launches several rockets – in extremely close proximity to the tanker, and on such a trajectory that the rockets can be presumed to have landed close to Bulkeley, and to the carrier (probably astern of Bulkeley’s and the tanker’s positions in the traffic lane), just as the Navy said in its earlier briefing. The Navy’s original statement was that the rockets landed as close as 1,500 yards from Truman.
(Truman is never visible in the video, but given the tactical circumstances, can be assumed to have been astern of the tanker and Bulkeley. Bulkeley, which would precede the carrier through the strait, has a good wake on in the video, and looks to be maneuvering urgently to get between the Iranian boats and the carrier. The French frigate, Aquitaine, is probably in formation with the carrier, positioning to Truman’s starboard: the side of the ship exposed to the Iranian coastline during an inbound transit.)
If you’re not clear on this, sending fast patrol boats out into the traffic lanes in the Strait of Hormuz and having them launch rockets within a few hundred yards of the passing ships is just like sending a mobile artillery vehicle out, right next to the Capital Beltway on the edge of Chevy Chase or McLean, and having it launch rockets within a few dozen yards of all the commuters and soccer moms. It’s exactly that dangerous, stupid, and slap-upside-the-head, sock-in-the-gut-with-a-tire-iron irresponsible.
What is there to be done about it? Glad you asked. Because that question isn’t about law. It’s about leadership.