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Navy Confirms Boat Swarm Seen Alongside Carrier Group In This Satellite Image Was Iranian

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The U.S. Navy has confirmed that "multiple" small Iranian boats running alongside the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and other ships from her strike group as she sailed through Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf of Oman earlier this month, as seen in commercial satellite imagery. The service has rejected reports that any of the Iranian craft harassed or otherwise acted provocatively toward the carrier, saying the activity was within "normal behavior patterns." Still, the image of 18 small boats in very close proximity to Lincoln and her escorts is eye-opening and a stark reminder of the inherent risks of each transit through the Strait.

A PlanetScope satellite belonging to private satellite imagery firm Planet Labs, part of a constellation that takes images of much of the Earth every day, caught Lincoln making the transit out of the Persian Gulf by way of the Strait of Hormuz on Dec. 4, 2019. The image circulated for days in various formats on social media, causing considerable debate within the open-source intelligence community about what exactly was going on in the frame. Some media outlets, including in Iran, picked up on the narrative that the IRGC had "harassed," or at least "escorted," the Carrier Strike Group out of the Strait in a successful challenge to the United States amid a new spike in tensions between the two countries. We can now put this debate to rest.

"During the transit, multiple Iranian vessels followed the U.S. ships through the strait," U.S. Navy Commander Joshua Frey, a public affairs officer for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), told the War Zone in an Email. "Their activity was within normal behavior patterns for Iran and did not threaten the Abe [Abraham Lincoln] strike group."

The satellite image shows what could be as many as 18 boats following Lincoln around 20 miles northwest of Oman's Musandam Peninsula and some 30 miles from Iran's Qeshm Island. 

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Edited by GKABS

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50 minutes ago, Nesher said:

Next time they should obliterate them out of this world... otherwise the Iranians will keep pushing the limits

you are absolutely correct.


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