Iranian gunboats take part in maneuvers. File photo.InternationalIndiaAfricaDuring National Army Day festivities on Tuesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi lauded the military’s efforts to bolster security against terrorism, and called on uninvited foreign forces that pose a threat to the Middle East’s security to “leave the region as soon as possible.”Iran has forced a US Navy ballistic missile submarine to surface in the Hormuz Strait, Iranian Navy Commander Admiral Shahram Irani has announced.
“The US submarine was approaching the Strait of Hormuz in complete silence while submerged, but our domestically-made submarine, the Fateh, spotted it and carried out…maneuvers to force it to surface and cross the Strait while surfaced,” Irani told local media on Thursday.
The commander said the Iranian side issued warnings to the sub, which he identified as the USS Florida, to change course after it began approaching toward Iran’s territorial waters, with the US vessel subsequently informed that it would be escorted along its route.World‘No Unipolar World Anymore’: Iranian FM Spox Says US No Longer Superpower17 April, 20:11 GMTIrani urged the United States to explain why its vessel “violated” the laws of passage through an important sea channel, and demanded that the US Navy adhere to all international maritime rules “from now on.”The US Fifth Fleet issued a tweet Thursday saying that Iran’s claim about catching the sub was “absolutely false,” assuring that a US vessel “has NOT transited the Strait of Hormuz recently.”
“The claim represents more Iranian disinformation that destabilizes the region. US 5th Fleet continues to operate wherever international law allows,” the combatant command claimed.
But the Navy did confirm earlier this month that it had deployed the USS Florida to the Middle East from the Mediterranean, with the Ohio-class guided-missile sub transiting the Suez Canal and heading south.CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr/Marion Doss / USS Florida, seen here during retrofitting at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. File photo.USS Florida, seen here during retrofitting at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. File photo.“The submarine entered the region April 6 and began transiting the Suez Canal the following day,” a spokesman said at the time. “Florida is a nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine homeported at Kings Bay, Georgia. It is capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and is deployed to US 5th Fleet to help ensure regional maritime security and stability,” they added.The Navy spokesperson did not elaborate on where the USS Florida was going or how long it plans to spend in the Middle East. Formally, the 5th Fleet’s so-called ‘area of responsibility’ includes the waters of the Middle East from the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the northwestern Indian Ocean.The Islamic Republic has repeatedly linked the presence of US forces in the Middle East to regional instability and terrorism. Last month, US forces conducted air strikes in Syria targeting “pro-Iranian forces” following a series of attacks by militias on illegal American bases in Syria. The US responded to the escalating tensions by parking the George H.W. Bush carrier strike group off Syria’s Mediterranean Sea coast.