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Iran Harasses Merchant Ship in Strait of Hormuz – US Navy

Iran Harasses Merchant Ship in Strait of Hormuz – US Navy
Mike Schuler June 5, 2023

U.S. and UK forces came to the aid of a merchant ship being harassed by Iranian fast-attack boats in Strait of Hormuz on Sunday.

The incident highlights the ongoing tensions in the region.

The internationally flagged merchant vessel sent a distress call via radio at approximately 4:56 p.m. local time on June 4. The civilian crew reported the presence of three fast-attack craft with armed personnel, which had approached and followed the ship at close range.

Upon receiving the distress call, the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul (DDG 74) and the UK Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster (F 229) mobilized. HMS Lancaster deployed a helicopter to provide surveillance of the situation, while the U.S. 5th Fleet directed a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to monitor the scene.

The fast-attack boats have been identified as belonging to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. The U.S. Navy did not disclose the identity of the ship in this instance.

The situation deescalated approximately an hour after the distress call when the ship confirmed that the fast-attack craft had departed the area. The vessel continued its transit through the Strait of Hormuz without any further incidents.

The latest incident comes as the U.S. Department of Defense is bolstering its defense forces in the Gulf region amid an increase in attacks on commercial shipping by Iran. In the past two years, Iran has harassed, attacked or interfered with the navigational rights of more than a dozen internationally flagged commercial vessels, according to the U.S.

In early May, Iranian forces seized the Panama-flagged very large crude carrier Niovi as it was transiting the Strait of Hormuz. That incident came about a week after Iran’s navy seized the Marshall Islands-flagged Advantage Sweet in international waters in the Gulf of Oman on April 27.

“U.S. 5th Fleet remains vigilant and is bolstering defense around the key strait with partners to enhance regional maritime security and stability,” the Navy said in its statement.