Washington, D.C. -
Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, announced the U.S. is sending four minesweepers into the Persian Gulf and will patrol waters off the coast of Iran as tension with the Islamic Republic continue to grow.
"We are moving four more mine sweeps to the theater," he said. "That'll make eight. We are moving airborne mine countermeasure helicopters. That'll take us to eight in theater. And ... those, working with the British mine sweeps there, which we exercise with frequently, sets us up a little bit there."
The four ships are the USS Sentry (MCM 3), USS Devastator (MCM 6), USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Warrior (MCM 10).
The U.S. has already deployed an Aircraft Carrier battle group, along with a second carrier floating about in the Mediterranean and has beefed up its operations base on Bahrain. As U.S. Naval ships have entered the gulf, Iranian gunboats have shadowed them during their passage through the Straits of Hormuz, a vital international waterway where 40% of the world's oil passes through.
Additionally, the Navy has already deployed a contingent of helicopters designed to hunt and destroy mines.
This most recent deployment is in reaction to the U.S.'s concern that Iran has a growing capability of laying underwater, mines which are hard to detect, and they would use them in their attempts to shut down the Straits of Hormuz, as they have previously claimed they could.
With this deployment, the U.S. has increased its Naval and overall military firepower and warfare capabilities to nearly double the normal compliment patrolling the Persian Gulf.
The U.S. along with its European allies have been locked in a stand off with Iran over its nuclear program which Iran says is for peaceful civilian energy but Israel and many western nations contend it part of a greater covert operation to develop nuclear weapons. Negotiations have netted no results over the last several years and many experts say it's now only a matter of time until Iran possess a nuclear weapon.
Iran has reacted to sanctions by threatening war and to close the Straits of Hormuz. The U.S. has stated it will not allow the closing of the vital waterway and will take action if need be to keep it open.