Sept 6, 2012
The third US aircraft carrier, USS Stennis, is moving into place off the Iranian Gulf coast to lead a 12-day naval exercise of 25 nations on Sept 16-27, that will include a large-scale minesweeping drill simulating the breaching of the Strait of Hormuz against Iranian efforts to block oil passage through the strategic waterway. President Barack Obama may see Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the last day of the exercise. He hopes to present him with proof of US readiness for military action against Iran and demonstrate that an Israeli strike is superfluous.
The Stennis will join two other aircraft carriers, the USS Enterprise and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, and their strike groups, which are already on operational duty off the coast of Iran, ready for the drill which kicks off in the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Sept. 16.
US officials say the Stennis will replace the Enterprise, but according to DEBKAfile’s military and Washington sources all three carriers will remain in place opposite Iran in the Gulf region in the coming months. British and French warships are completing their transfer to new stations off Iran for the big exercise in which the Saudi and United Arab
Emirates navies will also take part.
In addition to practicing tactics for keeping the Strait of Hormuz open, the exercise will simulate operations for destroying Iranian naval, air and missile bases in the Persian Gulf area.