- The US Navy appears to be sending a message to Iran in the form of a guided-missile submarine equipped with tremendous firepower and possibly special operations troops.
- The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia sailed into the Persian Gulf on Monday, and the Navy made sure everyone knew it.
- For the first time in eight years, the Navy announced the presence of a guided-missile submarine in the Persian Gulf. The statement included pictures and emphasized the submarine's firepower.
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The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia sailed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf on Monday, and the US Navy took the very unusual step of making sure everyone knows it is there.
The submarine was accompanied by the guided-missile cruisers USS Port Royal and USS Philippine Sea, the Navy said in a statement which included several photos.
Monday's statement on USS Georgia's activities marks the first time since 2012 that the Navy has announced the presence of a guided-missile submarine in the Persian Gulf. The statement emphasized the submarine's firepower.
Missile submarines like USS Georgia are armed with more conventional combat firepower than any other comparable naval vessel. These submarines carry 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles (TLAMs), subsonic missiles used for long-range strikes deep within enemy territory.
These submarines have 22 missile tubes with seven TLAMs in each one, and each missile has a range of about 1,000 miles, giving these boats a pretty substantial combat radius. The cruisers that sailed with USS Georgia carry a lot of firepower as well.
The guided-missile submarines can also be configured to support up to 66 special operations troops with the additions such as an Advanced SEAL Delivery System or dry deck shelter.
In the collection of photos that the Navy released of USS Georgia's activities in vicinity of the Persian Gulf, such an attachment can be seen mounted on top, behind the sub's mast.
A Navy official told Fox News that the deployment of USS Georgia to the Persian Gulf was not a direct response to any recent event but was "long planned" ahead of the anniversary of the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, former head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Soleimani's death in a US drone strike in early January nearly dragged the US and Iran into armed conflict, as it led Iran to launch a missile strike against US and coalition forces in Iraq.
US Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, sent a message to Iran earlier this month in the form of two B-52H Stratofortress bombers which flew over the Persian Gulf before returning to the US.
CENTCOM commander Gen. Frank McKenzie warned in a statement at the time that "potential adversaries should understand that no nation on earth is more ready and capable of rapidly deploying additional combat power in the face of any aggression."
Commenting on the strategic bomber flights, a senior military official told NBC News that there is an elevated risk of miscalculation and possible conflict with Iran and explained that the purpose of the flights is "to ensure that if they are contemplating some sort of an aggressive act, that they would they would think twice about it before they did it."
Neither the Navy nor CENTCOM has said whether the deployment of USS Georgia to the Persian Gulf is intended to serve the same purpose.
The US Navy said in its statement Monday that USS Georgia's "presence demonstrates the United States' commitment to regional partners and maritime security with a full spectrum of capabilities to remain ready to defend against any threat at any time."