In an unusually open announcement, the U.S. Navy said that it is sending one of its nuclear-powered attack submarines to the Middle East, following recent strikes on U.S. forces and allies. 

The Ohio-class guided missile submarine USS Florida will operate with the Navy’s 5th Fleet, based out of Bahrain. It passed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea on Friday, April 7. The move comes after a Friday warning to ships in the area due to increased tensions between Iran and Israel, the New York Times reported

Given the nature of submarines, the Navy does not generally announce where they are being deployed. 

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The deployment comes a little more than two weeks after an attack on U.S. personnel in northeast Syria injured 12 service members and killed a contractor. The attack was done by a drone that the U.S. says was Iranian. The U.S. quickly responded to that by launching airstrikes on groups tied to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Last month the Navy also moved the USS George H.W. Bush carrier group to the Middle East. Iran and its affiliated groups have carried out more than 80 attacks on American forces since 2021. The United States has several hundred soldiers in Syria hunting down ISIS members — a strike this past week killed Khalid ‘Aydd Ahmad al-Jabouri, described by officials as a senior leader in the terrorist group — but the situation has in part become a proxy war with Iran in the country. 

In a pointed part of a statement on the deployment, Navy spokesman Commander Timothy Hawkins said that the USS Florida is there to assist in maritime security, but also that it is “capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles.” 

Alongside land-based conflicts with Iranian-linked groups, the United States and its allies have been intercepting several ships traveling in waters around the Middle East carrying Iranian weapons and explosive materials. Many of those have been en route to Yemen, in support of the Houthi forces there. 

Tensions with Iran are not the only recent security concern in the Middle East. This past week, a drone attack hit the area near the Sulaimaniyah airport in northern, Kurdish-controlled Iraq. Mazloum Abdi, leader of Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which are working with the U.S. to fight ISIS in the region, was unhurt, and said that he was with members of the U.S.-led coalition at the time of the attack. The SDF claims that Turkey is responsible for the attack (Turkey denied carrying out any operation). Turkey is a NATO ally but considers the Kurdish forces to be a terrorist group. 

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