Home » News & Analysis » Pentagon: Iranian Convoy ‘One of the Factors’ in Moving U.S. Carrier Roosevelt Closer to Yemen


Pentagon: Iranian Convoy ‘One of the Factors’ in Moving U.S. Carrier Roosevelt Closer to Yemen

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) operate in the Arabian Sea on April 21, 2015. US Navy Photo

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) operate in the Arabian Sea on April 21, 2015. US Navy Photo

PENTAGON — The build up of U.S. naval presence in the vicinity of Yemen is the result of the deteriorating security situation inside the country and to “preserve options” to maintain maritime security in the region, Department of Defense officials told reporters this morning.

Monday, the Navy announced nuclear carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60) had left the Persian Gulf bound for the Arabian Sea to join seven other U.S. warships in the vicinity of Yemen on Sunday.

The ships are there with “the very clear mission to ensure that shipping lanes remain open, to ensure there’s freedom of navigation through those critical water ways and to help ensure maritime security. That is the mission,” said U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren to reporters on Tuesday.
“What they also do of course, and let’s be clear, they have moved to that area in response to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen.”

The ships are also tracking a nine-ship Iranian cargo ship convoy that some press reports say are suspected of smuggling arms to Houthi rebels.

“We are watching this Iranian convoy. They remain in international waters in the Gulf of Aden,” he said.
“That is certainly one of the factors but not the reason they are there.”

The Iranian ships so far haven’t acted in a threatening manner, he said.

Roosevelt and Normandy joined seven other U.S. warships that are operating near the country in the throes of a civil war following the forced ouster of former president Abdu Rabbu Mansour in January by Houthi rebels.

The ships include the three ship Iwo Jima amphibious ready group (ARG) — USS IIS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), Fort McHenry (LSD- 43) and USS New York (LPD-21) embarked with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), guided missile destroyers USS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98), USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) and two mine counter measure ships — USS Dexterous (MCM-13) USS Sentry (MCM- 3).

There are also two U.S. oilers and a supply ship in the region for a total of 12 ships.

The following is an overview of confirmed and probable ships near Yemen updated as of April, 20. Image courtesy of the Center for International Maritime Security

The following is an overview of confirmed and probable ships near Yemen updated as of April, 20. Graphic courtesy of CIGeography and Political Geography Now.

Before leaving the Persian Gulf, Roosevelt had conducted Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) militants.

Warren said the departure of the carrier and its air wing would not effect operations for OIR missions that have switched to land based strike aircraft.

Officials did not say if Roosevelt would lend its airborne information, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to aid the ongoing Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes that began shortly after the Houthi overthrow.

  • John4534

    Instead the USA should have used this golden opportunity in the middle-east to be an honest, reliable and reputed partner to resolve the several crisis in the last few months; starting with ISIS, IRAN NUCLEAR BOMB, YEMEN, SYRIA, IRAQ, LIBYA and Egypt.
    This was the time to use wise American diplomacy to offer carrots keeping guns in the other hands. America should have forced all these gangs to unite first to defeat ISIS first using all means; and then should have offered amicable solutions not favoring any player and not making any one our enemy. But by playing under Saudis, oil kings and Sisi’s hands, against Iran; America has bankrupted her reputation, image, honesty and above all political will.

  • Tempting Tuna Flavor

    Much ado about nothing. The Saudi monarchy is doomed. They are just delaying the inevitable.

    The Saudis are working hard to destroy America’s oil industry, thus keeping us dependent on them. We should be planning to bomb them, not Iran.

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  • howard_t

    Heard one of the administration’s “sweet young ladies” trying to explain what the Roosevelt’s task group was doing. After mumbling a few times she seemed to say something about ensuring freedom of navigation. OK, that makes sense, but how is a Marine Expeditionary Unit used to do that? What makes a lot more sense is a quick look at a map of the area, in particular the Bab el Mandeb. Anti-shipping missiles set up along the Ras Menheli in Yemen, or on Perim Island, which further constricts the already narrow passage, would effectively close the Suez Canal to traffic. Are we willing to allow that? Would the threat of losing the Suez Canal be enough to commit ground troops in the region?

    • old guy

      I wrote before that way back in ’91 I fought a 2-sided war-game at NWC, Newport. I was Orange NCA. I took an unarmed Djibouti and bottled the Brits in the Red Sea. I wiped out the BLUE airbases in Saudi, which were un protected, by moving 4 armed POMORNIKS across the desert in 6 hours. Since there was no infrastructure there nothing prevented a high speed intervention. I was in the process of defeating the Persian Gulf BLUE force with 150 Komar and Osa boats and 350 smaller craft. At that point we stopped the game. I have it all on tape. BLUE NCA later made VCNO. Good guy.

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