Iran claims revenge but U.S. Navy is still a target

ABOARD THE USS FARRAGUT IN THE PERSIAN GULF – In the darkest of darkness, surrounded by a glass-smooth sea – thousands of miles from home – an American voice reads a statement over a VHF radio frequency primarily used for international distress calls.

“Sécurité, sécurité, sécurité: Good morning all ships. This is a coalition warship conducting maritime operations in the (Persian Gulf) in support of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce. If you observe any suspicious or illegal activity, or require assistance, contact the nearest coalition warship.”

The announcement, repeated at regular intervals throughout the night and day, is read by a U.S. Navy officer from the bridge of the USS Farragut, a 510-foot Arleigh Burke-class destroyer named after America’s first admiral, David Farragut.

Farragut served in the War of 1812. He helped secure victory in the Battle of Vicksburg in 1863, and a year later he led a successful attack with the now-iconic order: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” according to the U.S. Navy, although there appear to be some conflicting accounts about in which campaign he uttered the phrase. 

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The U.S. Navy’s statement is aimed at any number of troublemakers who operate here, from modern-day pirates to Houthi insurgents from nearby Yemen. 

But really its intended audience is Iran. 

In particular, the network of heavily armed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels the country has used to obstruct commercial shipping and seize foreign oil tankers in the Persian Gulf after increased friction between Tehran and Washington after the Trump administration withdrew from a nuclear accord between Iran and world powers and reimposed economic sanctions. Tensions have intensified in recent days after the Pentagon killed a senior Iranian general in a drone strike in Iraq and Iran responded by launching a missile attack on two bases in Iraq that are home to U.S. troops.

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