Escorted by US, Royal Navy and French warships, the USS Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz yesterday. Iran's threats to the contrary, there were no incidents.
Britain, America and France delivered a pointed signal to Iran, sending six warships led by a 100,000 ton aircraft carrier through the highly sensitive waters of the Strait of Hormuz.I don't think the lesson of messin' with the US has been lost in that area of the world. We may be down to 250 or so ships, but the capabilities of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier are nothing to snear at.
This deployment defied explicit Iranian threats to close the waterway. It coincided with an escalation in the West's confrontation with Iran over the country's nuclear ambitions.
European Union foreign ministers are today expected to announce an embargo on Iranian oil exports, amounting to the most significant package of sanctions yet agreed. They are also likely to impose a partial freeze on assets held by the Iranian Central Bank in the EU.
This is not he first time Abe has been used to send a message.
Tehran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation. Tankers carrying 17 million barrels of oil pass through this waterway every day, accounting for 35 per cent of the world's seaborne crude shipments. At its narrowest point, located between Iran and Oman, the Strait is only 21 miles wide.
Last month, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Iranian navy, claimed that closing the Strait would be "easy," adding: "As Iranians say, it will be easier than drinking a glass of water."
But USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered carrier capable of embarking 90 aircraft, passed through this channel and entered the Gulf without incident yesterday. HMS Argyll, a Type 23 frigate from the Royal Navy, was one of the escort vessels making up the carrier battle-group. A guided missile cruiser and two destroyers from the US Navy completed the flotilla, along with one warship from the French navy.
[...]Another carrier, USS Carl Vinson, has been in the Gulf and the surrounding region for several months. Abraham Lincoln's arrival means a return to the two-carrier deployment that America has retained in the area for many years.One would expect a certain amount of rational decision-making even from the likes of Iran's leadership. Particularly when you stand to have a lot of your country's nice things all busted up if either skipper gets the notion to do so.
Each of these Nimitz class vessels carries a complement of fighter aircraft with more striking power than the entire Iranian air force. Their presence widens the options open to Western governments should Tehran attempt to retaliate for tighter sanctions by harassing international shipping lanes.