Photo: US Navy
Underwater mines may be one of the most effective ways of disabling an opposing force in the history of warfare, and if Iran feels it has little left to lose it could mine the Strait of Hormuz and choke off a lionshare of the world’s oil supply.It’s an act of war that would also incur untold U.S. casualties.
Unfortunately the idea has little meaning anymore to the American public.
Tehran has been threatening to shutter the strait, blow up U.S. vessels, and generally doing whatever the hell it wants for months.
When I think of naval mines, I think of Gilligan’s Island. There was an episode titled “Mine Hero” where the the first mate stumbles upon a WW II mine and…it doesn’t matter. The point is the idea of mines means very little to us today unless you’re serving on a naval ship in the Persian Gulf.
Then, it couldn’t really mean much more.
When I heard there was going to be a multinational mine clearing exercise in the Persian Gulf September 16 -27, the IMCMEX 12, I submitted my embark request immediately.I heard there were only 15 available media spots, but crossed my fingers and we got one. My Visa was approved a couple of days ago.
So tomorrow I catch a plane for Manama, Bahrain, home of the 5th Fleet. There, I catch a helicopter to the USS Eisenhower and spend two days observing carrier maneuvers and taking part in a C-2 takeoff and arrested landing before heading to the USS Ponce.
The Ponce is a 40-year-old ship outfitted with the newest gear and serves as a staging base for all Mine Counter-measure (MCM) operations in the area.
While on the Ponce, and during the exercises, I’ll be offered transport on both U.S. and Japanese vessels to document how international forces would deal with a mined Persian Gulf.
Hopefully, by the time that’s over I should have enough details and photographs to impart how big a concern this really is for U.S. men and women serving in the Navy. In the following days, look for photo essays on the ships I’ll be seeing and the maneuvers they’ll be preforming.
When I get back on the 25th I’ll be able to offer an insight into what the Iran tensions mean to Navy troops and what the U.S. will do if the Strait of Hormuz does ever get mined.
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