Pentagon Pulls the Plug on Accompanying Vessels into the Gulf

The US Navy ships have stopped accompanying U.S.- and British-flagged commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz as there were no further incidents following the seizure of Maersk Tigris last week, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren informed.

The navy ships started accompanying the U.S. and British ships following two incidents less than a week apart late last month when Iranian navy patrol vessels approached two commercial ships in the strait, one of them ending up in detention amid unpaid debts.

The US Navy described the two incidents as “harassment”, even though the Iranian side said that the incidents were not politically motivated but had a legal backround.

Both ships, Maersk Kensington and Maersk Tigris, were on hire with Maersk Line which is said to be involved a cargo dispute with an Iranian private company named Pars Talaee Oil Production Company.

However, based on the latest reports the two sides seem to be approaching a solution that may lead to release of the vessel and its crew.

Pentagon said that while the US Navy ships remain in the strait, crews are providing maritime security operations, adding that the adjustment is relatively minor.

“The Navcent commander adjusts the mission based on his view of the conditions,” he added.

On April 24, four Iranian navy patrol boats approached the U.S.-flagged merchant ship Maersk Kensington, Warren said in an April 29, briefing.

“The boats came astern of the Kensington and followed her for 15 or 20 minutes in actions that the Kensington’s master interpreted as aggressive,” he said in that briefing.

There was no U.S. military involvement at the time, he said.

Then on April 28, Iranian patrol vessels approached the M/V Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel in Iranian territorial waters that have internationally recognized commercial shipping lanes, officials said. The Tigris remains at anchor off the coast of Iran near Larak Island, Warren said on Wednesday.

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