The US Central Command announced on Sunday that it has deployed an Ohio-class submarine to the Middle East, in a rare move that signals its support for Israel and its deterrence against Iran and its proxies.
Ohio-class submarines are both nuclear-powered and capable of carrying nuclear warheads, although some carry only cruise missiles and are meant to deploy with special operations forces. The US did not specify which type of Ohio-class submarine is operating in the region, nor did it reveal its exact location.
However, the US released an image that appeared to show a submarine in Egypt’s Suez Canal, near its Suez Canal Bridge. The image suggests that the submarine is heading to the Persian Gulf, where Iran and its allies pose a threat to US interests and allies.
The deployment of the submarine is part of the US strategy to bolster its military presence in the region, amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The US has also dispatched two carrier strike groups and a nuclear-capable B-1 bomber to the area, in order to deter any state or non-state actor from escalating the conflict.
The US has expressed its solidarity with Israel, which is facing thousands of rockets fired by Hamas and other terrorist groups from Gaza. The US has also condemned Iran for its role in arming and supporting Hamas and other militants in the region.
The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reaffirmed the US commitment to Israel’s security and right to self-defense, in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant on Sunday. He also urged for a de-escalation of the violence and a restoration of calm.
The US Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns also arrived in Israel on Sunday, to discuss the situation in Gaza and the efforts to secure the release of the hostages held by Hamas. He is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mossad chief David Barnea, and other defense and intelligence officials.
The US has been actively involved in diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in coordination with Egypt, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. However, the prospects of a truce remain uncertain, as Hamas has vowed to continue its attacks until Israel lifts its blockade on Gaza.