In an extremely rare announcement, the US Navy has publicly declared the location of one of its nuclear submarines, apparently as a "message" and warning to Tehran.
The nuclear submarine USS Georgia is now transiting the Strait of Hormuz, the vital narrow waterway where Iran's IRGC frequently patrols, reportedly armed with up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
JUST IN: #USNavy's #USSGeorgia transits #StraitofHormuz with cruisers #USSPortRoyal and #USSPhilippineSea. Georgia’s presence in @US5thFleet demonstrates the fleet's ability to operate wherever international law allows. #forcetobereckonedwith— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) December 21, 2020
DETAILS ➡️ https://t.co/PObIHE2XC6 pic.twitter.com/ys8cBbnm7k
A US Navy statement posted to Twitter on Monday said the nuclear sub's presence "demonstrates the fleet's ability to operate wherever international law allows" and included the words "force to be reckoned with" as a hashtag.
One geopolitical media monitoring group noted that—
"It’s the first time in 8 years the U.S. Navy has publicly disclosed that one of its nuclear submarines is transiting the Strait of Hormuz."
"The nuclear-power Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729), along with the guided-missile cruisers USS Port Royal (CG 73) and USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), transited the Strait of Hormuz entering the Arabian Gulf, Dec. 21," the Navy said in a statement.
This comes as the region is on edge less than two weeks to go ahead of the first anniversary of the US assassination by drone of IRGC Quds Force chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3, 2020.
CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie is currently in the Middle East on a surprise visit, likely in Iraq (the precise location is undisclosed for security reasons, according to media statements). The visit is also considered part of the "message" to Iran to stand down.
Gen. McKenzie on Sunday warned Tehran the US remains "ready to react" should it pursue any revenge or retaliation for Soleimani's killing.
There are fears of further rocket attacks against the US Embassy in Baghdad after a major Sunday incident which saw eight rockets rain down on the area, with limited damage to the US embassy complex.
There's also the possibility of espionage or bombings of tankers operating in the Strait of Hormuz, akin to the "tanker wars" of the summer of 2019.