Operation Praying Mantis 1988, All-Out Engagement.
Note: This scenario is designed mostly to be played from the US/Blue and it's better to play that side in first place, and to play it later from the Iranian/Red side because it can be a little frustrating and boring, but the victory is also possible.
Operation Praying Mantis was the Reagan administration answer to the Irani attacks on neutral tanker shipping and inmediate consequence of the mining deployed from the LST Iran Arj against the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) on 14 April 1988. This operation is often cited as one of the five historical naval actions to decisively stablish the USN supremacy in a determined theater of operations. It also marked the U.S. Navy's first exchange of anti-ship missiles by ships.
In the context of Iran-Iraq War the Tanker War phase (1984-1988) was one of the more complex post-WWII campaigns from the naval viewpoint.
Both Iran and Iraq attacked oil tankers and merchant ships, including those of neutral nations, to deprive the opponent of trade earnings. As higher stage answer the Iranians might close the Strait of Hormuz to all shipping, but as United States had threatened several times to go to war if the Strait was closed the Iranians refused to take the risk,, limiting their attacks in retaliation first to Iraqi commercial ships but also extended to neutral shipping. After several Iranian attacks on Kuwaiti and other neutral shipping, the United States Navy started in March 1987 to escort Kuwaiti tankers the United States after had reflagged half of Kuwait's fleet of twenty-two tankers. In April 1987, the then Soviet Navy also started escorting Kuwaiti tankers.
Praying Mantis was a one-day retaliation strike focused in oil rigs and other instalations where the Iranians small forces were based to assault the neutral and Western shipping. Those had included bases for the minelaying operations that damaged the USS Samuel B. Roberts.
The US forces were organized in three groups and with air support and air defence of the CVN-65 USS Enterprise Carrier Air Wing Eleven, escorted by CGN-35 USS Truxtun and FF-1063 USS Reasoner:
VF-114 Aardwarks with F-14A Tomcat.
VF-213 Black Lions with F-14A Tomcat.
VA-22 Fighting Redcocks with A-7E Corsair II.
VA-94 Shrikes with A-7E Corsair II.
VA-95 Green Lizards with A-6E/KA-6D Intruder.
VAW-117 Wallbangers with E-2C Hawkeye Group 0.
VAQ-135 Black Knights with EA-6B Prowler ICAP I (ICAP II from late 1988).
Surface Action Group Bravo, targets Sassan and Rahkish/Rahksh oil platforms (renamed Salman and Resalat after the Islamic Revolution):
DD-976 USS Merrill, with 1xSH-2F.
DDG-8 USS Lynde McCormick.
LPD-14 USS Trenton, with 4xAH-1T, 2xCH-46, 2xUH-1, and the USS Samuel L. Roberts SH-60B.
Surface Action Group Charlie, target Sirri oil platform (renamed Nasr after the Islamic Revolution):
CG-28 USS Wainwright.
FFG-56 USS Simpson, with 1xSH-60 and 1xUH-60.
FF-1069 USS Bagley, with 1xSH-2F.
Surface Action Group Delta, composed partly of former escort ships from the Enterprise group, with target the Iranian warship FFL Sabalan, because her reputation for deliberately attacking the crew quarters of neutral ships:
DDG-16 USS Joseph Strauss.
DD-975 USS O'Brien, with 2xSH-2F and 1xUH-60.
FFG-24 USS Jack Williams, with 2xSH-2F.
The rest is history ... or not.
This scenario represents a What if? scenario, with a full compromise of all the Iranian forces against the US side, without the prudence demostrated in the historical engagement.
In the historical scenario the US side decided to not attack mainland Iran to prevent a escalade, and the Iranian response was limited to a few warships and warplanes and not launching shore-based SSM (they are contradictory reports about that) because the Iranian fears to US retaliatory strikes over mainland Iran, and as in the case of the Gadaffi's Libya on 1981 and 1986, the fear of heavy losses on his own side could weak his position as regional power (In the case of Iran we should remember was in war with Iraq on 1988, and the outcome of Praying Mantis also forced Iran to settle the peace with Iraq).
In the historical aftermath, Iran losed the FFL Sahand, the PTM Joshan (after be notified many times of "stop your engines, abandon ship, I intend to sink you", Joshan launched the last operational Harpoon in the Iranian Navy againts the CG-28 USS Wainwright who decoyed it, receiving in interchange a salvo of six Standard SM-1 and one Harpoon) and some three PG type Toragh/Boghammar based in the Abu Musa Island to attack commercial shipping, and also the FFL Sabalan resulted crippled, but was returned to service on 1989. The oil platforms of Sassan and Sirri, employed as bases for the attacks on commercial shipping, rested unoperative after the previously demanded evacuation and subsequent combined attack of warships, Cobra helicopters and SEAL and USMC teams. The attack against the Rahksh oil platform was called off to ease pressure on the Iranians and denote a desire for de-escalation. The FFL Sabalan not was sunk also because when Defense Secretary Carlucci asked Admiral Crowe, then CJCS, what he thought
about launch another strike to finish she, Crowe responded, "Sir, I think we've shed enough blood today".
Enrique Mas, January 2012