US military aims to ensure safe passage of American commercial ships in Persian Gulf

| July 25, 2019

President Donald Trump looks to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper during a ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

In a move reminiscent of Operation Earnest Will, where US forces protected Kuwaiti-owned tankers from Iranian attacks in 1987 and 1988, our military will provide protection for American vessels in the Persian Gulf and Straights of Hormuz. The U.S. naval and air presence in the Gulf theater is to act as a deterrent to Iran, keeping them from threatening to stop or seize any American commercial ship, SecDef Esper said on his first day on the job.

By Robert Burns

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military intends to protect American commercial ships against Iranian threats in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz but will not provide naval escorts in every case, the newly installed defense secretary said Wednesday.

The aim of the U.S. naval and air presence in the Gulf area is to deter Iran from threatening to stop or seize any American commercial ship, Mark Esper told reporters on his first full day as Pentagon chief.

Esper, who previously served as the Army’s top civilian official, was confirmed by the Senate and sworn at the White House on Tuesday, ending a seven-month absence of a confirmed defense secretary.

He indicated that addressing the Iran issue is one of his first priorities. Threats to navigation in the Gulf have become an international issue in recent months as Iran has responded to increased U.S. economic sanctions that have strangled its oil exports.

uss boxer
A SH-60 Sea Hawk flies over the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) during a vertical replenishment-at-sea. Boxer is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region.

Earlier this month the U.S. had discussed with its allies the formation of an international naval escort for oil tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab on either side of the Arabian Peninsula, where much of the global crude oil traffic passes.

The new Pentagon chief, sworn in to his post at the White House on Tuesday after being confirmed by the Senate earlier in the day, said that dealing with the issue of Iran would be one of the first on his list of priorities.

If the Iranians are caught laying sea mines, or attacking a US vessel, it’ll be Operation Praying Mantis Part II.

The rest of the article may be viewed here: Military Times

Category: Foreign Policy, Iran, Military issues, Navy

Comments (51)

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  1. Toxic Deplorable B Woodman says:

    Mattisism #3
    3. ‘I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.’

  2. IDC SARC says:

    Good training

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      ^THIS^ Welcome home IDC SARC! Dahell you been hiding? Keyboard run out of ribbon ink? You been missed.

      Another novel idea. We play escort and the people who own the tankers pay us a fee to protect them. I know that is just one step away from being a mercenary Navy, but what the hell. How many of my fellow taxpayers are tired of footing the entire bill? How much of that oil is making its way to us now-a-days?

    • Roh-Dog says:

      The Legend returns!

  3. Mick says:

    Back to the future.

    And don’t forget this action on 21/22 September 1987 during Operation PRIME CHANCE, which took place the year prior to Operation PRAYING MANTIS.

    ‘Capturing the Iran Ajr’

    A ‘Part II’ of something like this could happen again at any time in the current operational environment out there in the Gulf.

  4. 26Limabeans says:

    “vertical replenishment-at-sea”

    Translation please?

    • Mason says:

      Resupply by helicopter.

      Don’t know why the Swabbies can never just call something what it is. 🙂

      • AW1Ed says:

        We do it mainly to irritate the other, nautically challenged, services.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        We have our own speshul language, y’know. Most of it is double top secret galactic level knowledge, with no written dictionary anywhere.

        • Mick says:


          Back in the day, there would always be much rejoicing when they’d announce over the 1MC that the VERTREP helos had just brought a load of ‘pony’ aboard.

          • thebesig says:

            I remember those days. They had no problems getting working parties together for that before the birds arrived. They had to turn people back. That didn’t stop those, turned back, to stick around just in case.

          • MustangCryppie says:

            Okay, I’m ashamed to admit it, but after 25 years in the USN I have no clue what the hell “pony” is.

            Can someone edumacate me? Please!

            • Mick says:

              ‘pony’ = mail

              Back in the dark ages before they had the Internet and e-mail aboard ship, the word that ‘pony’ had arrived aboard the ship spread like wildfire throughout the embarked Marines. I imagine that it was the same for the Sailors in the ship’s crew. Everyone looked forward to to the sounding of mail call back then; maybe get a package from home.

              Whenever we stood duty as the squadron Tower Flower up in Pri-Fly, we always kept a close eye on every PMC (Passengers/Mail/Cargo) helicopter that came aboard to see if they were carrying any orange bags. If they off-loaded orange bags after landing, that usually meant that ‘pony’ had arrived.

              So now that we’ve sorted out ‘pony’, how about ‘autodog’?

              • MustangCryppie says:

                Thanks, Mick!

                Wow! I NEVER heard that term and ALL my sea time happened during the “dark ages.” And yeah, we squids sure did relish our mail.

                Now, the “mail” on subs was a bit skimpy. We’d get a strip of paper of about 30 words once a week! Familygrams we called them IIRC.

                And speaking of subs, now I have heard of “autodog.” Soft serve ice cream! Ha! I explained it to a shipmate of mine once that we call it that cause of the way it looks coming out of the machine. He roars every time he hears it. Some are easily pleased.

                Then there’s the term for bologna and cheese sandwiches. We’ll leave that for another “squid language” post!

        • thebesig says:

          Hey, enough with the scuttlebutt. :mrgreen:

        • Twist says:

          I’m still waiting someone from another branch to capture the enigma machine used to decipher the Navy rank structure.

      • MustangCryppie says:

        Funny. We say the same thing about youse guys!


      • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

        EACH of the United States Armed Forces has their own lingo to include telling time. For instance, while Civilians say “3:00 PM” the US Army says “1500 Hours” while in the Navy a bell rings “x” times after some Sailor polishes it after polishing the Deck, paints the doors and polishes the Captain’s Quarters doorknob while in the USAF an O6 looks at an E3 and asks “Bill, do you know what time it is?” and the E3 turns around in his chair and says “YEAH Tom, Mickey’s big hand is in the twelve and his little hand is on the three!” and in the USMC some NCO yells “*OOG*, *UGH*, *ARGH*, *GRUNT*, *GRUNT*, *GRUNT*, FUCK, KILL, OO-RAH!!!”

        • AW1Ed says:

          1500 is six bells. Why is this so difficult for you nautically challenged types?

          • David says:

            It ain’t the bells, it’s which watch.

          • Ex-PH2 says:

            Watch? Rolex, guaranteed perfection from a guy in a motorboat pulling up alongside your ship with a boatload of “real deal” offerings, including guaranteed real (imitation) Rolex watches.

    • AW1Ed says:

      Helo delivered goods to ships at sea. The helo lowers down from a high hover to deliver the cargo to the deck. It then flies back to the supply ship for another load.

    • Mick says:

      While the ships are underway at sea, helicopters pick up external ‘sling loads’ of supplies from supply ships, and then fly them over to the receiving ships and drop them off on the receiving ships’ (flight) decks. Repeat until the resupply mission is complete.

      Thus ‘vertical replenishment-at-sea’.

      Hope this helps…

      • 26Limabeans says:

        Tanks all. I guessed as much but wanted to be sure because NAVY.

        What happened to pulling alongside and playing rope a dope. I recall seeing some wild videos of that.

        • AW1Ed says:

          Oh, that’s UNREP.

          • thebesig says:

            Then, after the UNREP, this over the 1 MC: “Stand by for heavy seas and heavy rolls as the ship comes about.”

            • Remember “over all hatches and gun covers”.. When stand by for heavy seas came over, I remember how many of us ran to the fantail and watched the stern go up and down 3 or 4 stories. Went to the flight deck once during heavy seas and that was enough for me after we took water over the flight deck. Ships company and Marines took part in the working parties bringing stores down to the reefers and store spaces. Amazing how many cartons with canned fruit accidently fell out of the cartons when they were dropped on the deck.

          • Mick says:

            Way back in the ancient, pre-Internet days of yore, we would always look forward to when the Navy conducted VERTREP/UNREP while we were underway, because that often meant that we would be getting some ‘new’ movies in exchange for the ‘old’ movies that we had already watched several times since the last VERTREP/UNREP. (Those movies were the old fashioned type that consisted of film wound on a spool and that were shown using an old fashioned movie projector.)

            If ‘new’ movies did arrive with the VERTREP/UNREP, and we weren’t scheduled to fly that night, we’d all grab a big cup of bug juice and a brown paper lunch bag full of popcorn from the popcorn machine in the wardroom and then head down to the squadron ready room for ‘movie night’. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies were always big favorites, and everyone had the respective movie dialogues memorized after seeing each movie a half-dozen times as they cycled through the fleet during a deployment, which often led to hilarious commentary and ad-libbing during each showing.

            Good times; good memories.

            • The E Div. IC guys used to show the flicks using I believe a 16MM film projector. I used to get an empty B size can from the mess deck and load it up with ice and bug juice and then head up to the starboard motor whale boat for the 4 hour watch standing as the stern hook boat engineer. When standing a night boat watch, I used to get there early and take the sound powered phones from the last one wearing the phones and then wear them for an hour before passing them off to the next person then cover myself with a blanket and sleep for the remaining 3 hours. We had the bridge, after steering and the lookouts on the phone circuit and if there was a chicken shit officer on the bridge, we had to take it easy on the BSing. At sea cruising down Carib. way at night was nice with the shooting stars and bright stars in the sky and full moons. What an experiance.

              • Buckeye Jim says:

                And the movies were accompanied by a sign off book which gave a rating and brief synopsis of the flick. Each time the movie was transferred this book had to be signed by the IC man taking possession. They, of course, added their own reviews such as “great skin in reel three”, or, my favorite, “free beer and p—sy and still the crew walked out.” Now THAT had to be a bad movie.

            • Ex-PH2 says:

              Like this classic film from the Hancock?

  5. Ex-PH2 says:


    Do something to disable those speedboats of theirs and leave them adrift. If that doesn’t stop them, then do what they did to those unprepared Navy peeps who ended up adrift and were seized by the Iranians. Hack their GPS stuff, too, so they end up going in circles….

    Can’t we string a line of buoys through the Straits of Hormuz that clearly show where international waters begin and theirs end?

    • thebesig says:

      It’s one of the reasons to why the Navy wants to add lasers to a ship’s defenses.

    • 26Limabeans says:

      “Do something to disable those speedboats”

      The Coasties. Show Iran our Coasties.
      Give them a role in this.
      That “hatch” knocker from last week would jump at the opportunity.
      Drop a couple of him on them.

    • MustangCryppie says:

      “Do something to disable those speedboats of theirs and leave them adrift.”

      A .50 cal would do nicely.

      • Fyrfighter says:

        And be a whole lot of fun!

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        Only if I get the first shots!!!!

        (Can you tell I’m tired of this nonsense?)

      • Huey Jock says:

        I was thinking about a Marine Cobra Heavy Hog. 7.62 minigun and 2.75 rockets. Cut a speedboat right half in to.

        • USMC 7577 says:

          Not sure what you mean by a Marine Cobra Heavy Hog. Never heard of Marine AH-1 Cobras being referred to as Heavy Hogs. The only Hogs that I have ever heard of were UH-1 model gunships that were flown in Vietnam.

          Current Marine AH-1 Cobras can carry 2.75″ rockets, but they don’t have a 7.62mm minigun. They have a three-barrel 20mm cannon.

          Best AH-1 Cobra weapon to use against a speedboat would probably be 2.75″ flechette rockets. The flechettes would take out anyone in the speedboat, but also hopefully leave the speedboat and bodies afloat so that intelligence personnel could take a look at them if desired.

          • Huey Jock says:

            I was, indeed, referring to the C model Huey heavily loaded with 2.75 rockets.

            My error/ignorance of the Marine Cobras’ armament. The 20 mike gun would considerably enhance the utility of an assault on the speedboats. I had been thinking about that round also not knowing about the Marine guns.
            Done chunked a couple of practice flechetts down range. Pity the poor bastard in any boat in the fire range of that weapon.

    • There’s an easy way to mark the Straits Ex. We can lay miles of water line to show the boundries./Grin. All kidding aside but that sounds like a great idea you mentioned. I just couldn’t resist with the water line line comment.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        Maybe we could send the Irani boats in search of bottled smoke or XXX meters of chow line.

      • Huey Jock says:

        My question is “Where the hell is the rest of the world” while the Iranians are harassing international commerce?

        As usual, The United States seems to be the only nation who wants to enforce peace in the world.

  6. Stacy0311 says:

    Operation Praying Mantis II or, Iran needs a new Navy. Again

  7. Anonymous says:

    Same stuff, different day– Iran doesn’t learn.

  8. Roh-Dog says:

    I’ll bet a handful of .22 LR that this ends poorly, like the Axis of Evil teaming together to knock out the lights here in the Good Ol’…
    Have a plan.