DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The US Navy said Monday its sailors and the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy came to the aid of a ship in the crucial Strait of Hormuz after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard “harassed” it.
Three fast-attack guard vessels with armed troops aboard approached the unidentified merchant ship at a close distance Sunday afternoon, the US Navy said in a statement. It offered black-and-white images it said came from a US Navy Boeing P-8 Poseidon overhead, which showed three small ships close to the commercial ship.
The US Navy’s guided-missile destroyed USS McFaul and the Royal Navy’s frigate HMS Lancaster responded to the incident, with the Lancaster launching a helicopter.
“The situation deescalated approximately an hour later when the merchant vessel confirmed the fast-attack craft departed the scene,” the Navy said. “The merchant ship continued transiting the Strait of Hormuz without further incident.”
The Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, sees 20% of the world’s oil pass through it.
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Iranian state media and the Revolutionary Guard did not immediately acknowledge the incident. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This latest incident comes after a series of maritime incidents involving Iran following the US unilaterally withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.
While authorities have not acknowledged the Suez Rajan’s seizure, the vessel is now off the coast of Galveston, Texas, according to ship-tracking data analyzed by The Associated Press.
The US Treasury in August 2021 sanctioned the Oman Pride and others associated with the vessel over it being “involved in an international oil smuggling network” that supported the Quds Force, the expeditionary unit of the Guard that operates across the Mideast. Purported emails published online by Wikiran, a website that solicits leaked documents from the Islamic Republic, suggest that cargo carried by the Niovi was sold on to firms in China without permission.
The recent seizures have put new pressure on the US, long the security guarantor for Gulf Arab nations. The United Arab Emirates claimed last week it had earlier “withdrawn its participation” from a joint naval command called the Combined Maritime Forces though the US Navy said it was still in the group. Meanwhile, the US military’s Central Command said Saturday its chief visited the region, met with Emirati leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and “discussed shared regional security concerns as well as US and UAE security partnerships.”
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