Saturday, November 24, 2007
DEBKAfile Reports: US Central Command’s stepped-up charter of extra tankers and fuel purchases portend high naval activity in Persian Gulf
"Shipping and oil industry sources suggest CENTCOM, whose area includes the American Fifth Fleet’s aircraft carriers cruising the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, may be stocking in extra fuel ahead of extended operations off or on Iran’s shores.
The US Navy’s Military Sealift Command has tendered for four tankers in November to move at least one million barrels of jet and ship fuel between Gulf ports from Asia to the Gulf and between the US Diego Garcia Indian Ocean base and big US Gulf bases in Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.
The fuels to be moved between Gulf ports include the high flashpoint jet fuel JP5, used to power F18 fighters aboard aircraft carriers.
They have been very active, said a ship industry source, familiar with the MSC tender process, who asked not to be named.
The MSC normally tenders for one or two tankers a month for Gulf operations, including missions in Iraq.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the US heavy B-1 bombers are based on Diego Garcia along with heavy ordnance for bombing fortified underground targets, such as Iran’s secret military installations.
The Military Sealift Command is geared to provide ocean transportation for supplying US forces worldwide with equipment, fuel, supplies and ammunition. During war, 95 percent of all equipment and supplies needed to sustain the U.S. military will be carried by sea. Stepping up this traffic suggests heightened American military operation pending in the Gulf region.
In the last two days, two Western newspapers have referred to US war preparations against Iran: The big Scottish paper The Herald reported: “The US is secretly upgrading special stealth bomber hangars on the British island protectorate of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, according to military sources.”
According to the Canadian Globe and Mail : “No one is predicting a full-blown ground war with Iran. The likeliest scenario, a blistering air war that could last as little as one night or as long as two weeks…”"