US launches Persian Gulf surge to counter Iran

Admiral Jonathan W Greenert said that the US Navy would add four more mine-sweeping ships and four more Sea Stallion helicopters.

Washington: The United States Navy is upgrading its defensive and offensive capabilities in the Persian Gulf to counter Iran’s threat to block the world’s most important oil shipping route Strait of Hormuz, an official has said.

Admiral Jonathan W Greenert, the chief of US naval operations, said that the Navy would add four more mine-sweeping ships and four more Sea Stallion helicopters with mine-detection capability.

The Navy is also sending more underwater unmanned mine-neutralisation units to the region.

Greenert said he plans to assign more patrol craft to the gulf, possibly armed with Mark 38 Gatling guns. The same kind of guns might be placed on ships that provide protection for US aircraft carriers or perhaps on the carriers themselves.

“US ships have excellent long-range defences but could use weapons for closer combat,” The Los Angeles Times quoted Greenert, as saying.

“It’s like being in an alley with a rifle and maybe what you need is a sawed-off shotgun,” he added.

Iran has earlier threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, which served as the conduit for 17 million barrels of oil every day last year.

The country has boasted that they could “swarm” large US ships with their smaller, fast-moving craft, and has also reportedly been laying mines along their coastline.