The American aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, has just finished a mission in the Persian Gulf and sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, not far from the Iranian coast. The transit took place amid rising tension over Iran's nuclear program, and Tehran's threats to close the strait’s vital shipping lanes.
Ready and vigilant, the battle group steams through the waterway where a fifth of the world’s oil passes. Tehran has threatened to block the strait, and warned U.S. ships not to come.
For Navy pilot Mitch Cole, one of the crew aboard the carrier, the day begins like any other.
“It is not much different than it would be at home. I wake up in the morning, take a shower. Take care of personal things, grab some breakfast," he explains. "And usually at the end of the day we just like to relax like we would at home. We hang out with our friends. Maybe watch a movie or two, play some video games. It's not too much different than at home.”
U.S. commanders say this is not a show of force, but a routine transit - in plain sight of Iran and the occasional Iranian patrol boat that comes within view.
Iran's military hardware is largely aging and no match for the United States, but commanders say even the Lincoln is not bullet proof, so its crew stays ready. Armed U.S. helicopters keep watch throughout the transit.
Like everyone else on the ship, Lieutenant Cole is watchful. During the transit his mind is more on the ship's next assignment, providing air support to operations in Afghanistan, than on any potential aggression from Iran.
In the end, it is a routine transit with no incidents. The Lincoln goes on to its next mission and another carrier group prepares to enter the Gulf.
For Lieutenant Cole and for his ship, the routine is to be ready.