U.S. guided-missile destroyers McFaul, Gonzalez enter Persian Gulf

May 17 (UPI) — Two Navy guided-missile destroyers, the USS McFaul and USS Gonzalez, have entered the Persian Gulf as the United States beefs up its military presence in the region amid increased tensions with Iran.

The ships traveled through the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday afternoon without challenge from Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy, Pentagon defense officials confirmed to USNI News.

A U.S. defense official told The Wall Street Journal it was the “quietest transit we have seen in a long time,”

U.S. Central Command, which handles U.S. military interests in the Middle East, and Central and South Asia, did not provide details on the transit.

The USS McFaul and USS Gonzales are Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

The ships are joining increased presence of ships and aircraft in the Middle East. Vessels in the region comprise the Fifth Fleet.

The McFaul and Gonzales will be part of the Abraham Carrier Strike Group, which has been operating off the coast of Oman. The USS Kearsarge was off the coast of the United Arab Emirates near the entrance to the Persian Gulf.

And the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock ship and a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery are being moved to the Middle East. Also, four B-52 bombers have been sent to the region.

Earlier this week, the USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group left the Mediterranean Sea and sailed through the Red Sea to the Gulf of Oman.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told a Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee last week there was “very, very credible” intelligence that Iran was preparing to attack U.S. forces or interests in the region.

CENTCOM commander Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. agreed.

“Let me be perfectly clear as I reinforce this point: The long-term, enduring, most significant threat to stability in the CENTCOM AOR is Iran and the Iranian regime’s malign, hegemonistic ambitions across the theater and, indeed, globally,” McKenzie said at a Foundation for Defense of Democracies event in Washington, D.C.

Tehran says the Islamic Republic stands ready to defend itself against any act of aggression but does not consider a war with the United States and its allies as “an option.”

“I should say that we are not interested in the escalation of tensions in our region because if something goes wrong, everybody will lose — including Iran, including the U.S., including all the countries in the region,” Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-e Ravanchi told American outlet National Public Radio. “We are not interested in war. We are not planning for a war. War is not an option for Iran.”

But his nation needs “to be prepared for any action against our forces, against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iran,” he said.

“Therefore, we are vigilant. We are doing everything possible to lower the tension in the region. But unfortunately, there are certain people, both in Washington as well as in our region, who are interested to escalate the tension, who are interested to agitate the situation in the region, to provoke.”

President Donald Trump, when asked Thursday whether the United States would be involved in a war Iran, told reporters: “I hope not.”

On Wednesday, Trump posted on Twitter: “I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon.”

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