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Great Satan US warships to accompany US-flagged vessels near Iran: Official

1 May 2015 13:04


American Navy warships are “accompanying” all US-flagged commercial ships which pass through the Strait of Hormuz, a defense official says.

“US naval forces have begun accompanying US-flagged maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz,” the official said on Thursday.

The official added that the warships will remain in the area and stay in contact with the US commercial vessels, but the battleships will not escort them.

The US naval commanders “will coordinate with shipping industry representatives to ensure accompanying operations are conducted smoothly and efficiently,” the official stated.

The warships “are close enough to respond if needed” and “in communication” with the commercial ships, he added.

The decision was made after a cargo ship with Marshall Islands flag was seized by Iranian forces over financial violations on Tuesday.

The ship belonging to the MV Maersk Tigris was sailing in the Iranian waters when it was intercepted by the Coast Guard and diverted toward Larak Island near Bandar Abbas.

The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain dispatched the destroyer USS Farragut and Navy P-3 Orion aircraft to the area following a distress call by the Maersk Tigris, but they were told by the Iranian forces not to intervene.

US military officials also said on Wednesday that the USS Farragut destroyer and three coastal patrol ships are monitoring the situation in the strait.

“We sent ships into the area to help monitor the situation and help maintain a US naval presence in the vicinity of Strait of Hormuz,” said Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for the US 5th Fleet.

The US Navy is communicating with shipping traffic through “a variety of means” to ensure that mariners are aware of the event and that they understand how to respond if the situation is repeated, Stephens added.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham defended as legal Iran’s decision to impound the ship, saying the vessel was seized by Iranian Navy forces based on a court decision.

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