US Planning More ‘Robots at Sea’ in Middle East to Combat Iran 

The US is trying to convince Middle East allies to add dozens more robot vessels around the Arabian Peninsula to better detect threats from countries like Iran, a move to protect waterways vital to global commerce and oil trade.  

The US, which leads two international maritime coalitions out of Bahrain, wants to have more than 100 unmanned surface vehicles  — sometimes called robots at sea — in operation by the end of the summer, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, who commands the coalitions and the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, said in an interview.

An initial target of 50 was met in February and the technology delivers a cost-effective and efficient way of deepening US partnerships, he said, the Financial Post reported.

The plan is being carried out as Iran, emboldened by a China-brokered deal to re-establish relations with US ally Saudi Arabia, seized a second oil tanker in less than a week.

The US Navy released footage of boats it said were owned by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps swarming the Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, between Iran and Oman. 

In addition to Iran, the US is concerned about China’s efforts to expand military and security ties with Gulf Arab states, who have historically relied on the US for defense needs.

China, the largest trading partner for most of those countries and the top buyer of crude oil from the region, already has a naval base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. 

Written by staff