January 29, 2012
A hurried decision not to de-commission the USS Ponce helicopter marine carrier after duty in Libya – but to refit it for deployment by May in the Persian Gulf as a floating base for commando teams – was confirmed by the US Pentagon and Navy Sunday, Dec. 29.
This transportable floating base will expand the commandos’ range in coastal areas, support counter-measure against mines which Iran has threatened to plant in the Strait of Hormuz in reprisal for the US-EU oil embargo.
The SEALs will also take on Iran’s menacing fleet of military speedboats. DEBKAfile reports Tehran operates four different kinds of these craft in the Persian Gulf:
1. Small, fast vessels, each armed with a small missile for striking tankers and coastal oil targets around the Gulf region, such as export terminals. Earlier this month, Tehran claimed to have developed stealth cruise missiles capable of disabling aircraft carriers with a single shot.
2. Small, extra-fast boats armed with torpedoes. Iranian publications claim several such boats are capable of stealing up on US aircraft carriers and large warships from several directions without being detected and cause serious damage.
3. Floating bombs for kamikaze missions. These fast boats cannot be deflected after locking in on target, whether on sea or shore, and explode on contact.
The target date for deploying the commando platform in the Persian Gulf in four or five months indicates Washington is preparing for military clashes to blow up with Iran in the late spring or early summer.