A U.S. nuclear submarine crossed the Strait of Hormuz Monday in a new show of force directed at Iran as the anniversary of the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by a U.S. drone approached.
The USS Georgia can carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 66 special forces soldiers, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy, which usually does not disclose the presence of its submersibles around the world.
The statement is illustrated with photos showing the USS Georgia at the surface, escorted by the cruisers USS Port Royal and USS Philippine Sea, in the strategic strait that Iran regularly threatens to block.
The 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,” the Navy warned.
U.S. military officials fear an attack by Tehran to avenge the powerful Soleimani, who was assassinated on January 3, 2020 in a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad airport in Iraq.
The head of U.S. forces in the Middle East, General Frank McKenzie, told journalists Sunday that Washington is “prepared to react” if Iran attacks them.
The anniversary will coincide with a reduction in U.S. military strength in Iraq, and the Pentagon has stepped up demonstrations of force in recent weeks to deter opponents.
Two US B-52 bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, flew over the Gulf region on December 10, and the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz crossed the Gulf waters at the end of November.
A rocket salvo on Sunday targeted the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, causing damage but no casualties.
The attack was the third against U.S. military and diplomatic facilities since an October truce with pro-Iran Iraqi factions ended a year-long series of attacks on foreign facilities across Iraq.