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This is a timeline of primarily the U.S. Navy's involvement in the Gulf War and the events leading up to that conflict. By way of explanation, I would like to state that there are quite a few people who are unaware of the foundation of the MIO (Maritime Interdiction Operations) currently being conducted in the Persian Gulf. The 1990-1991 conflict marked the beginning of active U.S. Navy involvement (aside from 'unintentional' participation in the preceding 'Tanker War' between Iran and Iraq,) in this theater that continues to this day.
Policy implemented during the course of the Gulf War and shortly after has persisted as a sort of de facto ROE (Rules of Engagement) for the area with little modification. I am not going to cover the military significance of the current U.S. presence in the area or the social issues that arise as a result as this is already well covered elsewhere.

1987
Iraqi Mirage F-1 fires two Exocet missiles into USS Stark (FFG-31,) mistaking it for an Iranian Tanker. 37 killed.

1988
5 April- USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) heavily damaged by an Iranian mine while escorting Kuwaiti tankers through the area during Operation Ernest Will.
18 April- United States destroys two oil platforms and sinks/cripples two frigates and six Iranian gunboats used to attack shipping in Operation Praying Mantis. During action, USS Gary (FFG-51) is fired upon by an Iranian Silkworm missile battery which launch a salvo of two missiles. Neither reach their intended target due to lack of fuel.
(Ed. Note: This incident is later the subject of a massive coverup by the then Reagan administration. Senator Cranston was later quoted saying of the incident: "We have positive proof that no Silkworms were fired." Despite radar tapes kept by the ship and other units in the area in addition to photographs taken of the missiles during as they passed overhead of an in theater observer, no retaliatory action was taken.)

August 1990
2 August- Iraq invades Kuwait, eight U.S. Navy ships on station at the time.
6 August- Then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney visits Saudi Arabia and Egypt to discuss requests for assistance and to secure permission for U.S. warships to transit the Suez Canal.
16 August- MIO commence consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 661. Kuwaiti and Iraqi flagged vessels automatically challenged, first boarding executed by teams from USS John L. Hall (FFG-32.)
18 August- USS Reid (FFG-30) and USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG-49) fire warning shots across bows of Iraqi flagged tankers attempting to exit the Gulf in two separate incidents.

September 1990
4 September- VBSS (Visual Boarding Search and Seizure) teams from the USS Goldsborough (DDG-20) perform the first boarding and seizure of an Iraqi vessel in the Northern Arabian Sea.
7 September- USS Okinawa (LPH-3,) USS Ogden (LPD-5,) USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43,) USS Cayuga (LST-1186,) USS Durham (LKA-114) and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrive in the Gulf of Oman. This constitutes the whole of the Alpha Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and is the first significant wholesale deployment of U.S. Forces to the area.

October 1990
1 October- USS Independence (CV-62) transits the Straight of Hormuz, marking the first time an American aircraft carrier has been inside the Arabian Gulf since 1974. USNS Super Servant III arrives in Bahrain with her cargo consisting of minesweeping vessels to be deployed in the Gulf: USS Adroit (MSO-509,) USS Impervious (MSO-449,) USS Leader (MSO-490,) and USS Avenger (MCM-1.)
30 October- Major steam leak in the engine room of USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) kills 10.

November 1990
29 November- United Nations Security Council sanctions the use of military force to eject Iraq from Kuwait unless voluntarily departed by January 15, 1991.

January 1991
1 January- At this point 6,221 challenges, 749 boardings, and 32 diversions have occurred of either Iraqi or Kuwaiti shipping since the initiation of maritime interceptions.
12 January- USS Midway (CV) enters the Gulf.
15 January- USS Ranger battle group arrives in the Persian Gulf. USS America (CV-66) carrier battle group transits the Suez canal and arrives on station in the Red Sea.
-U.S. troop strength in the area consists of 425,000 personnel. (60,000 Navy and 75,000 Marine.)
-U.S. Navy assets in the area include 108 vessels total. 34 in the Arabian Gulf, 35 in the Northern Arabian Gulf (NAG,) 26 in the Red Sea, 13 in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
-Additionally 19 countries have deployed ground forces in the area, 14 participating in naval efforts.
16 January- At 7 p.m. EST offensive operations with the intention of forcibly removing Iraq from Kuwait begin with the opening of Operation Desert Storm. This is done so under the provisions of 12 separate United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
17 January- USS San Jacinto (CG-56) and USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) fire the first Tomahawk missiles from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf respectively, at around 1 a.m. local time. 228 combat sorties executed from six aircraft carriers in the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea. 1 A-6 and 1 F/A-18 lost over Iraq. First ground casualties occur in Saudi Arabia with the injury of three marines and one Navy corpsman as a result hostile artillery fire.
18 January- USS Nicholas (FFG-47) with support from Army rotary wing assets and a Kuwaiti patrol boat destroys Iraqi forces firing on coalition aircraft from captured Kuwaiti oil platforms in the Northern Arabian Gulf. 11 killed, 3 wounded and 23 prisoners of war.
19 January- The United States warns Iraq that it will be held accountable for treatment of POWs following the Iraqi announcement that captured U.S. forces would be used as "human shields."
23 January- Air Force F-16 pilot downed by Iraqi artillery fire over Kuwait and ejects successfully into the Persian Gulf. SH-60B assets deployed by HSL-44 from USS Nicholas execute first over water combat search and rescue mission.
24 January- Navy A-6s attack and destroy an Iraqi minelayer as well as a patrol boat with a second being destroyed after colliding with a mine while attempting evasive maneuvers. A-6s and F/A-18s attack and obliterate four ships at Qasr Naval Base, Iraq.
25 January- Iraq commences the dumping of some several million barrels of oil into the Gulf from the Sea Island crude oil loading terminal off of the coast of Kuwait. Five Iraqi tankers placed in position previously also intentionally discharge their cargo into the water. Resulting spill is 20 miles long, 3 miles wide and three feet deep.
26 January- 12 MiG-29s and Mirage F-1s flee to Iran (a declared neutral country,) with 12 transport aircraft.
27 January- A-6s attack and destroy an Iraqi ship in the Northern Arabian Gulf operating in support of mine laying craft near Bubiyan Island.
-3,500 combat sorties flown from the six carriers present, 260 Tomahawk launches to date.

February 1991
6 February- USS Missouri (BB-64) destroys two artillery emplacements, a command bunker and a radar control site in support of Marine operations, firing a total of 112 16-inch and 12 5-inch shells in a 48 hour period. USS Wisconsin (BB-63) destroys an Iraqi artillery bunker in southern Kuwait in her first fire support mission since the Korean War.
18 February- Both USS Tripoli (LPH-10) and USS Princeton (CG-59) strike mines in the Northern Arabian Gulf within three hours.
21 February- USS Wisconsin (BB-63) destroys a command complex, marking the first use of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in large scale combat operations.
23 February- Ground offensive begins.
24 February- Assault elements of the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions breech Iraqi defense lines with little difficulty.
26 February- Marine reconnaissance units become the first Coalition forces to enter Kuwait city and retake control of the U.S. Embassy located there. Using UAVs and Marine spotters USS Missouri (BB-64) and USS Wisconsin (BB-63) fire more than 1,000 16-inch rounds in support of ground operations. Missouri alone fires over a million pounds of ordinance during the attacks on a variety of Iraqi installations including artillery, mortar and Silkworm missile positions. UAV assets from USS Wisconsin (BB-63) used to provide on top reconnaissance to advancing Marine troops from 11 miles.
27 February- Ground operations suspended 100 hours after initiation and six weeks after the beginning of Desert Storm. All Coalition forces cease offensive operations.

March 1991
2 March- Following an 11 to 1 vote of the United Nations Security Council, resolution 686 is approved which outlines conditions Iraq must meet prior to a formal cease-fire.
3 March- General N. Schwarzkopf and Joint Forces Commander General Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz meet several Iraqi officials at Safwan Airfield in occupied Iraq to formally accept all demands for a cease fire.
11 March- USS Biddle (CG 34) conducts 1,000 boarding of a freighter in the Red Sea.
27 March- The first Navy combatants return to the continental United States. Carrier Air Wing 3 (USS John F. Kennedy) and Carrier Air Wing 17 (USS Saratoga) arrive at U.S. homeports.

April 1991
1 April- First west coast warship USS Marvin Shields (FF-1066) arrives San Diego.
6 April- Government of Iraq accepts the U.N. terms for a formal cease fire.
11 April- United Nations Security Council announces that a formal cease fire has been established, thus ending the Gulf War.

Sources:
"All Hands" Magazine, March 2001. Pgs. 23-47

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