U.S. Conducts Navy Exercises in Arabian Sea as Iran Tensions Mount

Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) began “enhanced security patrols” in the international waters of the Arabian Gulf area on Saturday

In this Friday, May 17, 2019, photo, released by the U.S. Navy, the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, right, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge, left, are seen from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as they sail in the Arabian Sea
Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael Singley, U.S. Navy via AP

The U.S. Navy says it has conducted exercises in the Arabian Sea with an aircraft carrier strike group ordered to the Persian Gulf to counter an alleged, unspecified threat from Iran.

The Navy said Sunday the exercises and training were conducted with the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group in coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps, highlighting U.S. "lethality and agility to respond to threat," as well as to deter conflict and preserve U.S. strategic interests.

Also taking part in exercises were the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, both deployed to the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of operations in the Persian Gulf.

The Navy says the exercises, conducted Friday and Saturday, included air-to-air training and steaming in formation and maneuvering.

Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) began “enhanced security patrols” in the international waters of the Arabian Gulf area on Saturday, the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said on Sunday.

The GCC countries were “specifically increasing communication and coordination with each other in support of regional naval cooperation and maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf,” the Facebook statement said.

Earlier Sunday,the top Saudi diplomat said the kingdom does not want war but will defend itself, amid a recent spike in tensions with archrival Iran.

Adel al-Jubeir, the minister of state for foreign affairs, spoke early Sunday, a week after four oil tankers were targeted in an alleged act of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and days after Iran-allied Yemeni rebels claimed a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline.

Saudi Arabia has blamed the pipeline attack on Iran. Gulf officials say an investigation into the tanker incident is underway.

A-Jubeir told reporters: "We want peace and stability in the region, but we won't stand with our hands bound."

Ministers from major oil-producing countries were to meet in Saudi Arabia later Tuesday.