The Navy practices a mock boarding operation on the U.S.S. Princeton in the Middle East, 2010. Photo: U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet
Sending more aircraft carriers to the waters near Iran, it turns out, was just the start. Yes, the U.S. currently has more seapower aimed at Iran in the Persian Gulf than in the fleets of most countries on Earth, Iran included. But that was just the Navy cracking its knuckles.
In the next few months, the Navy will double its minesweeper craft stationed in Bahrain, near Iran, from four to eight. Those ships will be crucial if Iran takes the drastic step of mining the Strait of Hormuz, one of the global energy supply’s most crucial waterways. Four more MH-53 “Sea Stallion” helicopters, another minesweeping tool, are also getting ready for Bahrain, to give the U.S. Fifth Fleet early warning for any strait mining.
Then the Navy will prepare to get closer to Iranian shores. Much closer. It’s got five close-action patrol boats in the Gulf right now. Once the Coast Guard returns three that the Navy loaned out, the Navy will have five other patrol craft in the United States. All those boats are getting retrofitted. With Gatling guns. And missiles.
Sure, the guns aboard the two aircraft carriers currently near Iran are the seapower equivalent of high-powered, long-range rifles. “But maybe what you need is like a sawed-off shotgun,” capable of doing massive damage from a closer distance, said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the Navy’s senior officer. All 10 of those patrol boats, Greenert told reporters at a Friday breakfast in Washington, will get strapped with the Mk-38 Gatling Gun and should make it to the Gulf next year. (Though, alas, they won’t havethe Gatling/laser gun mashup BAE Systems is working on.) They’ll also get close-range missiles that can hit Iranian shores from four miles away — the same kinds Navy SEALs use.