By Debbie Gregory.
A U.S.-flagged ship was intercepted by an Iran Revolutionary Guard naval patrol, the U.S. Navy revealed. In response, the Navy sent a destroyer toward the Persian Gulf on April 28th.
The ship, the Maersk Tigris, with 24 crew members, was intercepted by the Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boats as it traveled through the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian forces fired shots across the ship’s bow after its captain declined an order to divert farther into Iranian waters.
After being fired on, the Tigris issued a distress call, prompting the U.S. Navy to direct a destroyer, the Farragut, to the area.
This incident comes on the heels of a similar one on April 25th, when four Iranian naval vessels surrounded the U.S.-flagged Maersk Kensington, also in the Strait of Hormuz. In the past, Iran has threatened to block the strait, a route for much of the world’s oil.
State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke stated that “it’s a key concern of the United States to ensure that sea lanes in the region remain open and safe.”
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said it was “inappropriate” for the Iranians to fire the warning shots. He added that the ship was traveling through Iranian territorial waters that are, by international agreement, open to foreign ships making an innocent passage.
The U.S. Navy has dispatched one maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft to observe and monitor the situation, Warren told reporters.
The crew of the Maersk Tigris container ship is “safe and under the circumstances in good spirits,” according to a spokesperson for Danish shipping company Maersk. It is believed that all of the crew members were Eastern European or Asian
While it has been reported that there are no Americans onboard, the timing of these recent situations couldn’t be worse, as fragile negotiations over reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions are ongoing.
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Military Connection: Iran Intercepts Ship: By Debbie Gregory