US Navy vessels will accompany American-flagged commercial ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz, between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the Arabian Sea, to ensure the security of cargo carriers, US defence officials have announced.
The US Central Command, which is responsible for the country’s military operations in the Middle East, has recommended the increased security measures.
The decision comes after Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps navy vessels seized the Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel, Maersk Tigris, when it was in Iranian territorial waters transiting inbound in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Maersk Tigris sent a distress call after an Iranian Navy ship fired shots across its bridge and Iranian personnel boarded the vessel.
In response, the US navy sent Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut to monitor the situation, along with three smaller coastal patrol ships. Officials said no additional ships are being dispatched to the region.
A US official said: "Out of an abundance of caution, because of the unpredictability of our Iranian friends, we’re now positioned so that, should the Iranians decide that they’re going to be stupid, we’re ready to respond."
The navy vessels will be present in and around the Strait of Hormuz when container ships pass the transit, but will not escort them continuously.
The US has full authority and responsibility for security and defence of the Marshall Islands under the terms of an amended compact that entered into force in 2004.
Iranian officials stated that the Maersk Tigris was arrested according to the Legal Court of Tehran over a longstanding commercial dispute.