When I was in Navy bootcamp we spent many hours in classes learning the fundamentals of being a good sailor. While much of this information has been locked in the recesses of the gray matter between the ears, some tidbits seem to remain present in my everyday memory.
One of these learnings was the mission of the United States Navy. My first thought while sitting in class was that the Navy’s mission was to fight the enemy and win the war. While this is a requirement of the overall mission, it is not the mission in itself. Simply stated, the mission of the United States Navy is to “keep the sea lanes free for democracy”.
Today the U.S. Navy is being brought to the forefront of world headlines as it focuses to accomplish its’ mission. Iran suffered from American sanctions for years. Not only have trade restrictions strangled the fundamental Muslim country but hundreds of millions of dollars of frozen funds were being held in America. Unfortunately the current administration freed much of the restrictions and many sanctions have been lifted. An agreement was reached with America and its’ allies under the leadership of the Obama administration that would stop nuclear development of arms by Iran in exchange for reduced sanctions and release of the frozen funds. When the Trump administration took office it was felt that Iran was not following the agreement and new sanctions were imposed and then the majority of Iranian crude sales, the major income for the country, were blocked. Iran was in a desperate situation and desperate men turn to desperate measures. What Iran did not remember was how America responded in 1988 when it felt it could stop the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf and how an American President was not afraid to display American power.
In 1988 American warships were escorting American flagged tankers through the Persian Gulf from ports in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to a safe location outside the Straights of Hormuz. The tankers then sailed to their designated ports to offload their cargo. The Iran-Iraq war had been slugging on for eight long years and the death toll was near half a million men. Iran was unable to stop the flow of oil and had tried desperate means to shock the world into leaving the Persian Gulf area. One civilian Iranian airline plane flew in the direction of an American warship but had turned off its’ transponders that identified it as a non-military aircraft. Despite attempts to contact the aircraft, there was no response and the aircraft was blown from the sky by and American surface to air missile with all civilian passengers and crew perishing. This did not curtail the American mission, though our nation was extremely saddened by the loss of civilian loss, America continued with its’ mission.
Then Iran turned to a new tactic, one that had been in naval history for over a hundred years; mine warfare. Iran had mined the Straits of Hormuz and on April 14, 1988 everything came to a head. The USS Samuel B Roberts hit a mine and was almost sunk. Fortunately, no lives were lost but the stage was set and President Ronald Reagan gave the order to retaliate.
A well-coordinated attack was carried out by ships from the United States Navy. After a day of fighting that saw America sinking three fast attack speed boats, one naval frigate and one fast attack gunboat while damaging another frigate and destroying two intelligence positions on oil platforms. Following this action there were no more attacks on American tankers or military ships. It is surmised that this response was a final action that helped to bring an end to the Iran/Iraqi war.
Today Iran is again flexing its’ muscles. They are stronger on the sea and possess modern weaponry, some of which came from Russia. Iran has armed the Houthis in Yemen and empowered them to attack shipping that were transiting the Suez Canal. A stoppage of shipping in the Red Sea and if Iran blocks shipping coming through the Persian Gulf the Saudi Arabia could no longer ship oil to a needy world. If Iran continues with its’ aggression the United States will have no option other than to retaliate. America has moved battle groups via air craft carriers to the region and one destroyer is continually shooting down missiles launched from Yemen and enroute to Israel. The American Navy is ready.
God Bless America.