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Report: Iran fired missiles within 100 miles of USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, within 20 miles of commercial vessel

USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), and USS Princeton (CG 59) transit the Strait of Hormuz. (U.S. Navy photo, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony Collier)
January 18, 2021

On Saturday, Iran fired long-range missiles in the Indian Ocean, with two landing within 100 miles of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier (CVN-68), according to U.S. military officials who spoke to Fox News on condition of anonymity. Iranian missiles also landed within 20 miles of a commercial vessel, the officials said.

U.S. satellites orbiting overhead reportedly tracked the missile launches from Iran. One official said, “we were expecting the missile launch,” but it was unclear how close Iran planned to land its missiles to nearby vessels.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News reported Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) launched several classes of long-range ballistic missiles on Saturday during weapons tests. The Iranian outlet claimed the missiles hit naval targets from a distance of 1,800 kilometers (about 1,118 miles).

The Nimitz has been kept in the northern Arabian Sea and in the Persian Gulf for months. The carrier has been in the region since July and was set to leave before acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller halted plans for the carrier to leave on Jan. 3, citing threats from Iran against the U.S. military and President Donald Trump.

“Due to the recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other U.S. government officials, I have ordered the USS Nimitz to halt its routine redeployment,” Miller said at the time. “The USS Nimitz will now remain on station in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. No one should doubt the resolve of the United States of America.”

Iran has increasingly called for revenge against Trump and the U.S. for the U.S. strike on Jan. 3, 2020, that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani while he traveled in Baghdad, Iraq. At the time, the Pentagon assessed Soleimani was connected to imminent plans to attack U.S. personnel in Iraq.

Days after Miller announced the plan to keep the Nimitz in the Middle East, Iran announced the completion of a new underground missile base on the Iranian coastline and IRGC Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami said, “The enemy should be careful about its miscalculations in the region” and said, “sometimes the Iranian forces [will] hold military drills to help the enemy to make their calculations more precise and to avoid mistakes.”

The U.S. has stepped up its military presence in the Persian Gulf region in recent weeks amid the Iranian threats. The U.S. Navy recently deployed a guided-missile submarine and two guided-missile cruisers through the Strait of Hormuz, which runs along the Iranian coastline, and the U.S. Air Force has flown nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over the Middle East in recent weeks.