Written by Piero Messina
Deterrence. This is the strategy of the US Navy. Having released the photo of an Ohio-class submarine in the Suez Canal, north-east of Cairo is a clear message to Iran and Hezbollah. The submarine tracks are never revealed. Yet this time the US administration has decided to show the whole world its naval deployment in support of Israel. With a sharp note for the press, the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) announced that an Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine has arrived in its area of responsibility. The US military rarely announces the movements or operations of its submarine fleet.
Indeed, nuclear-powered ships operate in almost complete secrecy. But in the waters of the eastern Mediterranean the seas are rough above and below the water level. At the beginning of November, the presence of a Barracuda-class nuclear-powered attack submarine of the French Navy was identified, departing from Toulon, France. That boat also has a deterrent function, to demonstrate the full response capacity of NATO and the States in the event of a possible military escalation with Iran. And it is the entire Mediterranean belt that is affected by the passage of submarines. In recent days, in Sardinia, the Coast Guard has issued an alert for a submerged submarine that passed over the eastern coast. The alert indicated two days of absolute bans at sea on the east coast from Olbia to Villasimius for Sunday 5 and Monday 6 November. It was never known whose submarine it was.
The presence of the Ohio class submarine responds to the operational and strategic principles of US CENTCOM, the military command group established in the midst of the Cold War on 1 January 1983. As the name suggests, USCENTCOM covers the “central” area of the globe located between the European, African and Indo-Pacific commands. USCENTCOM’s priority missions are to: deter Iran; counter violent extremist organizations; compete strategically; carry out constructive activities at a regional level; provide integrated air and missile defense systems as well as to counter the unmanned aerial threat.
The photograph released by CENTCOM shows one of the four Ohio class boats modified into “arsenal submarines” for the transport and launch of up to a maximum of 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles (TLAM) from 22 launch wells. Furthermore, these boats have been modified to accommodate around sixty Special Forces operators (primarily the Navy Seals) with their vehicles transported dry inside the Dry Dock Shelter (removable), enhancing their operational flexibility.
The movement of one of the Ohio class SSGNs confirms the Pentagon’s desire to prepare a powerful air-naval deployment between the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, capable of carrying out long-range precision attack missions over the entire area of interested.
The US is an open war naval deployment. Above the sea line the presence of the Carrier Strike Group of the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower stands out from the Suez Canal towards the Red Sea, while the CSG of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford remains deployed in operation in the Eastern Mediterranean between Cyprus, Lebanon and Israel.
The first strike group is commanded by aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Carrier Strike Group (CSG) includes guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), guided-missile destroyers USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Gravely (DDG 107) of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 22, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 with its nine squadrons, and the Information Warfare Commander.
The second one group is driven by the USS Gerald R. Ford. The group – according to Us Centcom – arrives in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea in order to deter any actor seeking to escalate the situation or widen this war. The forces in the area include the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), with its 8 squadrons of attack and support aircraft, and the Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), as well as the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS Carney (DDG 64), and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80).
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