US assault ship enters Persian Gulf
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan has entered the international waters of the Persian Gulf after crossing the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran Press/ Middle East: The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan transited the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf on Wednesday, becoming the first US Navy 'big deck' to enter these strategic waters in 2020.
The vessel’s passage through the Strait of Hormuz, Capt. Lance Lesher, the group’s commodore claimed in a statement, "plays a critical role in maintaining the freedom of navigation key to regional security and stability here," Stripes reported.
Bataan and its amphibious readiness group comprise 2,500 marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the transport dock ship USS New York and the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill, the statement said.
Also traveling with the group is the destroyer USS Carney and cargo ship, USNS McLean.
The last big deck to transit the strait before the Bataan was the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, which departed last November during its record-breaking 10-month deployment.
Skipper Capt. Greg LeLand also claimed that Bataan’s passage through the strait was to reassure allies and ensure stability and security essential to maritime commerce.
US Central Command commander General Frank McKenzie said earlier that Washington is uncertain how future events may unfold in West Asia and that the US needs to accumulate military might in the region as it fears possible confrontation with Iran.
The Iranian judiciary chief Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi warned Friday that the country’s armed forces will respond in kind to any US provocation in the Persian Gulf.
"If the Americans seek measures in the Persian Gulf that in any way signal an attack or a threatening and destabilizing action, our powerful armed forces will force them to surrender or to find themselves at the depths of the Persian Gulf," Raisi said.
Tensions in Persian Gulf
Earlier last year, Washington called for the formation of a so-called maritime coalition in response to a series of mysterious explosions targeting vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.
Iran, which has soundly rejected the provocative foreign deployments, has stressed that only regional cooperation can ensure security in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.
Tensions have since further increased after Washington assassinated top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani during an official visit to Iraq on January 3.
Iran retaliated a few days later, launching a volley of ballistic missiles at the US Ain al-Assad airbase in Iraq.