USS Abraham Lincoln returns to Persian Gulf shadowed by Iranian boats
USS Abraham Lincoln passed through the Strait of Hormuz Tuesday with Iranian gunboats, an Iranian drone, and helicopter following. Iran had threatened to close the strait after Western sanctions were tightened last month.
ABOARD THE USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But there were no incidents on Tuesday as the Lincoln's battle group crossed through the narrow strait, which Iran has threatened to close in retaliation for tighter Western sanctions.
Several U.S. choppers flanked the carrier group throughout the voyage from the Gulf. Radar operators also picked up an Iranian drone and surveillance helicopter in Iran's airspace near the strait, which is jointly controlled by Iran and Oman.
The top U.S. Navy official in the Gulf said Sunday he takes Iran's military capabilities seriously but insists his forces are prepared to confront any Iranian aggression in the region.
Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of the 5th Fleet, told reporters at the naval force's Bahrain headquarters that the Navy has "built a wide range of potential options to give the president" and is "ready today" to confront any hostile action by Tehran.
He did not outline specifically how the Navy might answer an Iranian strike or an effort to shut the entrance to the Persian Gulf, though any response would likely involve the two U.S. aircraft carriers and other warships cruising the waters off Iran.
"We've developed very precise and lethal weapons that are very effective, and we're prepared," Fox said. "We're just ready for any contingency."
Faced with tightening Western sanctions, Iranian officials have stepped up threats to close the Strait of Hormuz if the country's oil exports are blocked. A fifth of the world's oil supply passes through the narrow waterway, which is only about 30 miles (50 kilometers) across at its narrowest point.