Update on the rumored armada sailing to Iran

Summary:  The rumors about a US armada sailing to the Gulf continue to rattle around the Internet, despite having almost no supporting evidence.  Now Stratfor and Debkafile provide hard information on these rumors.  Specific but contradictory information.  For now I will stay with my original view:  these rumors are a tower of guesses built on a slight foundation.  Although they may prove to be true, so far they demonstrate only how little fact is required to kindle a firestorm on the Internet, a testimony to the gullibility of even well-educated and informed people (i.e., those who circulate these stories as facts, not speculation). 

This is a follow-up to my August 9 post ”More rumors of war: our naval armada has sailed to Iran!“. 

“U.S. Naval Update Map”, Stratfor, 12 August 2008 — Excerpt (bold emphasis added):

As the Aug. 6 Update showed, the U.S. carrier fleet was in one of its most relaxed postures, with a single carrier – the Lincoln – in 5th Fleet, and a single carrier – the Reagan – in 7th Fleet near Japan. The rest of the “armada” was operating fairly close to the U.S. East or West Coast.

According to the U.S. Navy, on Aug. 12 the only carriers currently under way are the Lincoln and the Reagan.

The Lincoln began its current deployment on March 13, and the Reagan may replace it in the 5th Fleet (the Reagan began its deployment on May 19). It is not uncommon for these carriers to train together during a handover, but Washington has not chosen to maintain two carriers in the region since 2007.

… In sum, a surge of three carriers to the 5th Fleet would indeed be a noteworthy event, but there is not yet credible reason for concern based on the information available about the disposition of the U.S. Fleet. However, should we see the Reagan transit the Strait of Malacca and another carrier transit the Strait of Gibraltar, we will certainly have more to say at that point.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt {is} currently in its home port of Norfolk.

While the Kuwaiti daily did not name the ships it believes are heading for the Middle East, in Two U.S. Aircraft Carriers Head for Gulf Region“, the Media Line’s defense analyst said “they could be the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Ronald Reagan.”  This was reiterated even more strongly (but citing no evidence other than his “sources”) by Timothy Alexander in “Massive US Naval Armada Heads For Iran“.  {Note:  after a brief search, I cannot find the Navy’s denial that Stratfor mentions, nor stories confirming that the Roosevelt is in Norfolk.}

Now Debkafile adds to the fog:  “Three major US naval strike forces due this week in Persian Gulf“, 12 August 2008 — Excerpt:

DEBKAfile’s military sources note that the arrival of the three new American flotillas will raise to five the number of US strike forces in Middle East waters – an unprecedented build-up since the crisis erupted over Iran’s nuclear program.

This vast naval and air strength consists of more than 40 carriers, warships and submarines, some of the last nuclear-armed, opposite the Islamic Republic, a concentration last seen just before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

… DEBKAfile’s military sources name the three US strike forces en route to the Gulf as the USS Theodore Roosevelt , the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Iwo Jima . Already in place are the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea opposite Iranian shores and the USS Peleliu which is cruising in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Other posts about this rumor

  1. More rumors of war: our naval armada has sailed to Iran!, 9 August 2008 — Tracing the origin of these rumors.
  2. A US naval armada is en route to blockade Iran and start WWIII (the story gets better every day), 14 August 2008 — More details from one of the bloggers who shot this story into cyberspace, and an official US denial.
  3. UPI reports on the multi-national armada sailing to Iran, 15 August 2008 — UPI contributes to the rumors.
  4. Stop the presses: no naval armada has sailed to blockade Iran!, 20 August 2008 — Putting this rumor to bed.

My posts about a strike at Iran by the US

  1. 4GW at work in a community near you  (19 October 2007) — Propaganda warming us up for war with Iran.
  2. War with Iran   (9 November 2007) — Why Iran is not necessarily our enemy.
  3. Is Iran dangerous, or a paper tiger?   (13 November 2007)
  4. The new NIE, another small step in the Decline of the State  (10 December 2007)
  5. Will we bomb Iran, now that Admiral Fallon is gone?   (17 March 2008)
  6. More post-Fallon overheating: “6 signs the US may be headed for war in Iran”   (18 March 2008)
  7. A militant America, ready for war with Iran  (6 May 2008)
  8. Another step towards war with Iran?  (7 May 2008) — About Andrew Cockburn’s article in  Counterpunch.
  9. “War With Iran Might Be Closer Than You Think”  (13 May 2008) — About Philip Giraldi’s 9 May story in The American Conservative (see below).
  10. The most expensive psy-war campaign – ever!  (13 July 2008)
  11. ISIS: “Can Military Strikes Destroy Iran’s Gas Centrifuge Program? Probably Not.”, 8 August 2008

Here is the full archive of my posts about a possible strike at Iran by Israel or the US.

9 thoughts on “Update on the rumored armada sailing to Iran”

  1. Regarding USS Theodore Roosevelt: According to wikipedia is she already out of Norfolk and did she take part of Operation Brimstone:

    “CVW-8 and Theodore Roosevelt participated in Joint Task Force Exercise 08-4 Operation Brimstone off the coast of North Carolina between July 21 and July 31, 2008. The British carrier HMS Ark Royal, the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima with associated units and the Brazilian Navy frigate Greenhalgh (F-46) and the French submarine Améthyste also participated in the event[2].”


    ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT – The Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group stands at the center of a massive training exercise that is taking place off the coast of Virginia and other states — dubbed “Operation Brimstone.”

    I find this mistake of stratfor hard to believe.
    Fabius Maximus replies: You find it hard to believe because your references do not show that it is a “mistake”. The Stratfor analyst is aware of Operation Brinstone, noting (as does Wikipedia) that it ended on 31 July . The question is what the carrier group did afterwards.

  2. For further information, visit this site: “Kuwait on alert for war in Persian Gulf?“, Center for Research on Globalization, 12 August 2008.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I strongly disagree. Note that this cites no sources other than the dubious Debkafile. This appears to just repeat the rumors whose weak basis I trace in this post.

    The only “further information” this provides is a demonstration about how rumors propagate around the Internet.

  3. Debkafile is a covertly-official israeli disinfo site disguised as a quasi-military “super-duper secret” intelligence provider. There is usually some truth contained in their pieces but the verifiably true material is usually available from and can be confirmed via other sources. You’ll notice that most Debka pieces devolve into pro-israeli military and political commentary after the second or third paragraph.

    This “naval armada” story sounded dubious to me the minute it was reported by the Kuwaiti newspaper, then consequently copied and posted by several website publishers, but I gave the Kuwaitis the benefit of the doubt and waited for further confirmation. There has been no other even semi-reliable source (that I’m aware of) which has supported this “naval armada steaming toward the Red Sea and Persian Gulf” claim. In the realm of possibility that’s it’s a legitimate, true story I’ll give it a 1 1/2 out of 10.

    I completely agree that this is another example of the usual suspects doing their internet rumor mongering. Whatever you think of the Establishment media, and I for the most part hold them in utter disdain, at least they do publicly retract stories when they get things wrong. On the other hand the internet rumor-mongers don’t even bother with a * Never Mind. * They just hope their false claims slip down the memory hole and are forgotten. Then they carry on with their latest unsubstantiated rumor.


  4. Why the West can’t kick its Cold War habit

    Monday 18 August 2008

    ….Simplistic commentators have claimed that oil was the real reason behind the invasion of Iraq – no doubt today they will argue that the Georgian crisis has been caused by a conflict over resources or by the geo-political ambitions of Russia or the US. Unfortunately, there is a more dangerous force at work. The US in particular (but also other powers) is uncertain of its place in the world. Wars are being fought in faraway places against enemies with no name. In a world where governments find it difficult to put forward a coherent security strategy or to formulate their geo-political interests, a re-run of the Cold War seems like an attractive proposition. Compared to the messy world we live in, the Cold War appears to some to have been a stable and at least comprehensible interlude.

    Full piece Here.

  5. “Simplistic commentators”

    Our specialty, you’ve come to the right place! But seriously, good post, but also be aware, there’s a scientific axiom (Occam’s Razor)

    “”The most useful statement of the principle for scientists is “”when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better.””

  6. If anyone would pull their noses out of the blogosphere and bother to get eye witness testimony about the carriers Roosevelt and Iwo Jima we would all be a lot better off. This fabricated rumor bothered me greatly so I decided to try and verify it in the real (not computer) world.

    The norfolk naval base gives dock tours and I inquired as to which big ships were in port, response the roosevelt and the Iwo Jima both at dock in norfolk. The person at the tour office stated that both would likely be in port next week since it looked like the roosevelt had a canopy on deck covering a work area. So I quickly went to google earth and sure enough there sits both the Iwo Jima and the Roosevelt sporting a canopy covering a work area.

    If any of you bloggers would like some real world tips on story verification I am available for a fee.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for posting this. The wide circulation of this rumor on blogs and in Middle East media is more evidence that we are not using the Internet very well. This is perhaps symptomatic of a larger problem, America’s (speaking of our society) broken Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) loop. We are like those in Plato’s cave, actively resisting seeing the real world.

  7. Actually the spin released that this was all a rumor is more fictitious than the real data. This data was released to three major new media sources. This was respun by focusing on a first leak of the data, and then there was an official denial several days after the military exercise project, which was a real item and happened. The actual release was from the U.S. military themselves. This has nothing to do with Debka or Israel propaganda. This was a real U.S. military event.

    Europe Business Canada, August 7 – Operation Brimstone ended only one week ago. This was the joint US/UK/French naval war games in the Atlantic Ocean preparing for a naval blockade of Iran and the likely resulting war in the Persian Gulf area. The massive war games included a US Navy supercarrier battle group, an US Navy expeditionary carrier battle group, a Royal Navy carrier battle group, a French nuclear hunter-killer submarine plus a large number of US Navy cruisers, destroyers and frigates playing the “enemy force”. . .

    The build up of naval forces in the Gulf will be one of the largest multi-national naval armadas since the First and Second Gulf Wars. The intent is to create a US/EU naval blockade (which is an Act of War under international law) around Iran (with supporting air and land elements) to prevent the shipment of benzene and certain other refined oil products headed to Iranian ports. Iran has limited domestic oil refining capacity and imports 40% of its benzene. Cutting off benzene and other key products would cripple the Iranian economy. The neo-cons are counting on such a blockade launching a war with Iran.

    Do a search on Operation Brimstone. Check out this link http://www.metimes.com/International/2008/08/11/special_report_kuwait_readying_for_war_in_gulf/7724/ and review the data.

    The original story was released to 3 main mainstream news agencies. Then a retraction was issued three days later approximately.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I have no idea what you are telling us. Op Brimstone is long over, and most of the ships have dispersed. There are few or no signs of a “build up of naval forces in the Gulf will be one of the largest multi-national naval armadas since the First and Second Gulf Wars.”

    These rumors are over a month old. The ships would be in the Gulf by now.

  8. GoogleEarth are not current pictures. Using it to verify the position of a U.S. warship is not going to give you accurate information. U.S. military personal are forbidden by U.S. law on making any remarks on the position of their unis or ships and to give a current position of any military fleet or unit would compromise our national security. Some happen to be using engines which are not Google or Yahoo which are highly monitored and often do not give many links on the net. Anyone who could verify the position of our fleet or tell they were on it, would not be allowed to do so for security reasons, even to their spouses or friends.

    This event happened and we continue to have a naval presence in the Black Sea and Gulf. The precise position would be inappropriate to post. And in light of the recent developments and hostilities with Russian flagships in the Black Sea as well as others that will be in he Caribbean in exercise with Venezuela, this is not only verifiable, but a serious problem akin to the Cuban missile situation. We have Peter the Great, heavily armed ship, the star of the Russian fleet, with nuclear capability and 500 missiles which will be too close for comfort. This is no rumor. This is Russia clearly trying to make a point.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I guess really good rumors die hard.

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