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U.S. Navy has deployed a guided-missile submarine to the Middle East

U.S. Navy, Iran, guided-missile, submarine

The US Navy has deployed a guided-missile submarine capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk missiles to the Middle East, a spokesman said Saturday, following a recent show of force by Iran.

The Navy rarely acknowledges the location or deployment of submarines. Commander Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet based in the Gulf nation of Bahrain, declined to comment on the submarine's mission or reasons for its deployment.

The nuclear-powered submarine, which is based out of Kings Bay, Georgia, passed through the Suez Canal on Friday, he said. "It is capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and is deployed to the US 5th Fleet to help ensure regional maritime security and stability,"

The Fifth Fleet patrols the vital Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20 percent of oil is shipped. Its territory includes the Red Sea extending to the Strait of Bab al-Mandab off Yemen and the Suez Canal, the Egyptian waterway connecting the Middle East with the Mediterranean Sea.

The US, Britain, and Israel have accused Iran of targeting oil tankers and commercial ships in recent years, allegations Tehran denies. The U.S. Navy has also reported several tense encounters at sea with Iranian forces, which it says are acting recklessly and aggressively.

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