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Gulf japan { May 6 2002 }

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   http://216.26.163.62/2002/ss_gulf_05_06.html

http://216.26.163.62/2002/ss_gulf_05_06.html

U.S. heightens state of alert in Gulf, asks Japan's help

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Monday, May 6, 2002
WASHINGTON The U.S. Navy is on an increased state of alert in the Persian Gulf at a time its presence in the region has been reduced by the rotation of warship deployed to the region after Sept. 11.

Washington has asked Japan to send a destroyer and patrol aircraft to the Arabian Sea. Japan has completed a six-month naval tour in the Gulf, but Washington wants the tour extended.

Over the weekend, the United States urged allies to bolster their naval forces in the Gulf, particularly in the Straits of Hormuz where a U.S. ship was confronted last month.

U.S. officials said U.S. naval vessels in the Gulf faced threats ranging from Iranian military vessels to Al Qaida insurgents and smugglers. They said the focus of any confrontation could be in the Straits of Hormuz, Middle East Newsline reported.


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May 1: U.S. naval assets at lowest ebb in Gulf since Sept. 11

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Officials said the U.S. Navy has been on alert for another Al Qaida attack. They said the most likely prospect would be a suicide attack similar to the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.
Last month, a U.S. Navy ship was confronted by several boats in the Straits of Hormuz near Iran.

The USS Walter S. Diehl, an underway replenishment oiler, chased the boats away by firing toward them. The Washington Times said the encounter took place on April 23.


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The newspaper quoted defense officials as saying they suspected that the boats were smugglers from Oman.
"They did not appear to be terrorists," the official said. "They tried to surrender, but the ship kept going."

The U.S. ship is one of 34 vessels that refuel naval craft in the Persian Gulf and belongs to the Military Sealift Command's Far East command.

The United States has reduced its presence in the Persian Gulf amid a strain on its military resources stemming from the war in Afghanistan.



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