WASHINGTON — Two U.S. warships passed through the Strait of Hormuz without any provocation from nearby Iranian military assets in what could be a positive signal in a tense week of military buildup and rhetoric.
The USS McFaul and USS Gonzalez, both guided-missile destroyers, made it through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf, in a routine transit Thursday, the Navy said Friday.
Other naval reinforcements remained in place in the region, the Navy said Friday. They include the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike force off the coast of Oman and the USS Kearsarge amphibious assault ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
The Pentagon is considering releasing some images that show two Iranian boats carrying missiles in the Persian Gulf and possibly some images showing land-based missiles and drones being relocated into areas to attack U.S. forces in Iraq, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that intelligence collected by the U.S. government suggested that Iran’s leaders’ belief that the U.S. is planning an attack prompted Tehran to prepare for counterstrikes.
Additionally, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are “highly likely” to have facilitated attacks last Sunday on four tankers including two Saudi ships off Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, according to a Norwegian insurers’ report seen by Reuters.
The assessment was made by the Norwegian Shipowners’ Mutual War Risks Insurance Association (DNK) and shown to Reuters.
The DNK report said the attacks were carried out 6-10 nautical miles off Fujairah, near the Strait of Hormuz, Reuters said. Iran has in the past threatened to block all exports through the Strait, the route of roughly a fifth of the world’s oil.
Reuters reported that the attacks were likely meant to send a message to the United States and its allies that Iran could disrupt freedom-of-navigation operations without blocking the Strait of Hormuz, and that DNK would probably continue such low-scale attacks.