In a rare announcement, the US military said a guided missile submarine has arrived in the Middle East, a message of deterrence clearly directed at regional adversaries as the Biden administration tries to avoid a broader regional conflict amid the Israel-Hamas war.
US Central Command said on social media Sunday that an Ohio-class submarine was entering its area of responsibility. A picture posted with the announcement appeared to show the sub in the Suez Canal northeast of Cairo.
Why it matters: The military rarely announces the movements or operations of its fleet of ballistic and guided missile subs. Instead, the nuclear-powered vessels operate in near-complete secrecy as part of the US nuclear triad, along with intercontinental ballistic missile silos and strategic bombers.
The announcement is a clear message of deterrence directed at Iran and its proxies in the region. The sub, which is not named, joins a number of other US Navy assets already in area, including two carrier strike groups and an amphibious ready group.
In October 2022, the US made public a ballistic missile submarine in the Middle East, when the commander of US Central Command, Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, boarded the USS West Virginia. Kurilla’s visit occurred at an “undisclosed location at sea in international waters,” Central Command said at the time.
Diplomatic push: The announcement of a guided missile sub in the region comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been holding a series of meetings with US partners in the Middle East. In a whirlwind trip, Blinken has visited Turkey, Iraq, Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Cyprus.