Further Pentagon Denials Issued
By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer
The United States will not join in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s naval blockade of Yemen according to a Pentagon Spokesman, quoted in an April 17 Washington Post article by Dan Lamothe.http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/04/17/navy-has-seven-combat-ships-around-yemen-as-saudi-led-blockade-continues
The Midlantic Dispatch has compiled a list of eleven ships from various sources, comprising the currently deployed US Navy force as follows:Nimitz class aircraft carrier USNS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-70); Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USNS Normandy (CG-60); Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers USNS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98), USNS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) and USNS Sterett (DD 104); Avenger class minesweepers USNS Sentry (MCM-3) and USNS Dextrous (MCM-13); amphibious assault ship USNS Iwo Jima (LHD-7, Wasp class), amphibious transport dock USNS New York (LPD-21, San Antonio class); dock landing ship USNS Fort McHenry (LSD-43, Whidbey Island class), and dry cargo ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10, Lewes and Clark class). Attached is a force of about 2400 US Marines.
Iranian ships are said to be patrolling in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a narrow body of water and critical oil transport chokepoint between Yemen and Djibouti connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to an April 19 Big News Network post:http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/index.php/sid/232097333.
A US official, quoted in an April 21 ABC News report stated the Iranian convoy remains in international waters 150 miles east of the Yemen-Oman border headed in a westward direction.http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-navy-ships-board-iranian-ships-headed-yemen/story?id=30479887
According to the Washington Post in light of the US increase of naval force near Yemen, Air Force Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for US Central Command (CENTCOM), downplayed the development, saying the United States is not a part of the Saudi-led blockade and is simply patrolling waters in the region as usual.
The Washington Post and CNN have reported that according to a navy spokesman, Lt. Timothy Hawkins, at the Pentagon, no other ship has been boarded in the area since April 1, when a boarding party from the destroyer USS Sterett, searched the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship Saisaban in the Red Sea near western Yemen. It was suspected to be carrying weapons from Iran to Yemen, but nothing was found. The search was actually consentual, as the US does not have authority to forcibly board Panamanian ships.
The United States Navy has previously confirmed that it has routinely searches ships in the region for arms while conducting anti-piracy operations near the Horn of Africa.In 2013, Force Reconnaissance Marines with a maritime raid force (as part of anti-piracy operations around the Horn of Africa) boarded a ship in search of an insurgent leader off the coast of Yemen who was not found. The USN ship’s commanding officer indicated that the Navy often looked for area weapons smuggling activity on small vessels known as dhows.
On or about March 30, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia originally imposed a naval blockade of Yemeni ports aimed at preventing arms shipments to Houthi rebels. Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri stated on March 30 that coalition naval forces are blocking the movement of ships to prevent weapons and fighters from entering or leaving Yemen. He also said they had not yet intercepted anything at that time.
Currently, the Iranian ships are supposedly located in international waters outside of the Saudi-imposed blockade zone.
On April 14th, the UN Security Council approved a general arms embargo on aid to Houthi combatants. Iran is additionally precluded from exporting arms under UN sanctions related to its nuclear weapons development program under Resolution 17137 (of December 23, 2006 ) et.al., according to CNN.http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/14/middleeast/yemen-crisis/
[See also: http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1737/ ]UPDATE 4/24/2015: Additional US Navy ships involved in operations in the Yemen maritime sector are listed as Arleigh Burke class guide missle destoyer USNS Farargut (DDG-99), fast combat support ship USNS Artic (T-AOE-8, Supply class), Fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO-203, Henry J. Kaiser class). The IRINS light replenishment ship Bushehr (AORLH-422, Bandar Abbas class) was deployed with the Iranian Navy Frigate Alborz (F-72, Alvand class)