US Deploys Guided-Missile Submarine to Gulf Amid Iran Tensions, Heightened Russia Presence

US Deploys Guided-Missile Submarine to Gulf Amid Iran Tensions, Heightened Russia Presence
A guided-missile submarine capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk missiles in a file photo. (US Navy via AP)
Jack Phillips

The U.S. Navy has deployed a guided-missile submarine capable of carrying more than 100 missiles to the Middle East, a spokesman said on April 8.

“The [USS Florida] entered the region April 6 and began transiting the Suez Canal the following day,” Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins’s statement to media outlets reads. “Florida is a nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine homeported in Kings Bay, Ga. It is capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and is deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet to help ensure regional maritime security and stability.”

A photo released by the Navy shows the USS Florida on the surface near the Suez Canal, an artificial waterway in Egypt that connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from ships or submarines can hit targets from up to 1,500 miles away and were famously employed during the opening hours of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and in response to a Syrian chemical weapons attack in 2018.

The 5th Fleet patrols the crucial Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20 percent of all oil passes. Its region includes the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait off Yemen and the Red Sea stretching up to the Suez Canal.

The arrival of the USS Florida offers “additional flexibility, firepower, survivability, readiness and capability,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. Joe Buccino told Al-Monitor. Officials didn’t specifically link the deployment of the Florida to rising tensions with Iran.

In recent years, the United States, the UK, and Israel have accused Iran of targeting oil tankers and commercial ships, allegations denied by Tehran. The U.S. Navy has also reported a series of tense encounters at sea with Iranian forces that it said were being recklessly aggressive.

In March, the United States launched airstrikes against Iran-backed forces in Syria after a rocket attack killed a U.S. contractor and wounded seven other Americans in that country’s northeast.

The tensions have worsened as Iran has supplied attack drones to Russian forces in Ukraine and as Israel and Iran have escalated their years-long war in the Middle East. In addition to drawing closer to Moscow, Tehran has sought improved relations with China, which brokered an agreement last month to restore diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Israel’s minister of defense, Yoav Gallant, held a call with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Defense told media outlets this weekend. In a statement, the ministry called Iran “the greatest destabilizing force in the region.”

“As Israel faces a range of attacks on all fronts,” a statement to The New York Times reads, “our defense establishment is prepared and we will not tolerate any threat to our citizens and troops.”

Israeli planes attacked Syrian targets on April 9 in response to rockets that were launched overnight at the Golan Heights, which are controlled by Jerusalem, according to the country’s military. Syrian state-run media reported blasts near Damascus, the capital of Syria. Israel took over the Golan Heights during the 1967 war before annexing the region in 1981.

Israel’s military “sees the State of Syria responsible for all activities occurring within its territory and will not allow any attempts to violate Israeli sovereignty,” the Israel Defense Forces stated on April 9. Israel stated that it targeted a compound belonging to Syria’s 4th Division and Syrian Army radar and artillery sites, according to the Times of Israel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
Related Topics