U.S. navy to escort U.S.-flagged ships in Gulf

Iran has a miniscule navy, but it's been bullying unarmed cargo ships in recent days, so the U.S. Navy has decided to do something about it.

A Pentagon official says that all U.S.-flagged ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, and ships flying the flag of U.S. protectorates, will be escorted by at least one combat vessel.  The move is designed to discourage the Iranian navy from harrassing U.S.-flagged ships.

The Hill:

Early Tuesday morning, Iranian navy vessels approached and fired warning shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, and subsequently boarded and detained it and its crew. 

On Friday, the same types of Iranian ships surrounded and harassed a U.S.-flagged cargo vessel named the Maersk Kensington. 

The official said "this is being done as a result of the interception and the detainment of the Maersk Tigris on April 28," as well as the incident with the Kensington. 

The commercial vessels are being accompanied by "combat ships to prevent harassment or possible interdiction," said the official.

The official did not say how many U.S. warships would accompany each merchant vessel but said "we have [a] sufficient number of forces to meet the accompanying mission."

Iranian officials say the Maersk shipping line owes it money, but the two incidents occurred just days after Iran tried to send a nine-ship convoy to Yemen in a suspected effort to resupply Houthi rebels. The U.S. sent an aircraft carrier and a destroyer to the area in response, and the convoy turned around. 

Just for the record, it is considered piracy to seize a ship in international waters, even if the ship owes money.  Iran claims that the Maersk Tigris was in Iran's waters – a claim that is demonstrably false.

Besides, the ship isn't even owned by the company with which Iran has a financial dispute:

Maersk had chartered the ship, which is owned by undisclosed private investors. The company met with Iran on Wednesday.

Maersk said it had agreed to pay an Iranian company $163,000 after an Iranian court ruling in February that was related to a dispute about 10 container boxes transported to Dubai in 2005. Iran has appealed, seeking more money, Maersk said.

"We must insist that the crew and vessel are released as soon as possible," Maersk said in a statement. "The crew is not employed by Maersk Line, nor is the vessel owned by Maersk Line. Maersk Tigris and its crew are thus not in any way party to the case."

Despite a treaty with the Marshall Islands to defend its people and property, the U.S. has been virtually silent on this outrageous violation of international law by the Iranians.  Apparently, nothing is going to get in the way of a nuclear deal with Iran, even as the Iranians humiliate the U.S. by seizing property the U.S. is obligated to defend.

Iran has a miniscule navy, but it's been bullying unarmed cargo ships in recent days, so the U.S. Navy has decided to do something about it.

A Pentagon official says that all U.S.-flagged ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, and ships flying the flag of U.S. protectorates, will be escorted by at least one combat vessel.  The move is designed to discourage the Iranian navy from harrassing U.S.-flagged ships.

The Hill:

Early Tuesday morning, Iranian navy vessels approached and fired warning shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, and subsequently boarded and detained it and its crew. 

On Friday, the same types of Iranian ships surrounded and harassed a U.S.-flagged cargo vessel named the Maersk Kensington. 

The official said "this is being done as a result of the interception and the detainment of the Maersk Tigris on April 28," as well as the incident with the Kensington. 

The commercial vessels are being accompanied by "combat ships to prevent harassment or possible interdiction," said the official.

The official did not say how many U.S. warships would accompany each merchant vessel but said "we have [a] sufficient number of forces to meet the accompanying mission."

Iranian officials say the Maersk shipping line owes it money, but the two incidents occurred just days after Iran tried to send a nine-ship convoy to Yemen in a suspected effort to resupply Houthi rebels. The U.S. sent an aircraft carrier and a destroyer to the area in response, and the convoy turned around. 

Just for the record, it is considered piracy to seize a ship in international waters, even if the ship owes money.  Iran claims that the Maersk Tigris was in Iran's waters – a claim that is demonstrably false.

Besides, the ship isn't even owned by the company with which Iran has a financial dispute:

Maersk had chartered the ship, which is owned by undisclosed private investors. The company met with Iran on Wednesday.

Maersk said it had agreed to pay an Iranian company $163,000 after an Iranian court ruling in February that was related to a dispute about 10 container boxes transported to Dubai in 2005. Iran has appealed, seeking more money, Maersk said.

"We must insist that the crew and vessel are released as soon as possible," Maersk said in a statement. "The crew is not employed by Maersk Line, nor is the vessel owned by Maersk Line. Maersk Tigris and its crew are thus not in any way party to the case."

Despite a treaty with the Marshall Islands to defend its people and property, the U.S. has been virtually silent on this outrageous violation of international law by the Iranians.  Apparently, nothing is going to get in the way of a nuclear deal with Iran, even as the Iranians humiliate the U.S. by seizing property the U.S. is obligated to defend.