COMMENTARY | Iran‘s threat to close the narrow Strait of Hormuz has drawn the attention of military forces around the world and ignited a buildup that could endanger the region. While the U.S. and her major allies regularly maintain a naval presence in the Persian Gulf, other countries have dispatched warships to send a clear message to Tehran.
UPI reported the Russian, French, British and Canadian forces are already on station in the Gulf, with additional forces in route. The U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain and the USS John C. Stennis CVN-74 is currently patrolling the Gulf of Oman just outside the Strait.
The Stennis carrier group is quite capable of handling anything Iran might choose to muster in a show of force. With more than 70 attack aircraft, plus a screening vessels of various capabilities, the U.S. Navy would easily dominate any encounter. But it’s nice to know that other countries care enough to ensure the waterway stays open for commerce.
The Russians have deployed the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, which is anchored at Syria’s Tartus port on the Mediterranean. That action caused France to assign an air defense destroyer to the region as well. The Canadian Royal Navy announced Sunday the HMCS Charlottetown also departed for the Gulf.
Not to be left out, British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a guided missile destroyer into the Persian Gulf, which will join the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. That’s a lot of naval power to deal with in the event Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gets a wild hair to try to close the Strait of Hormuz.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey has said Iran could close the Strait for a “brief time,” but he also reiterated U.S. determination and capability to insure that the seaway will remain open for international navigation. I seriously doubt Iran would want to engage the western powers in a naval confrontation that cannot win. But if they do, the Stennis will give them a moment of pause.