The United States has announced plans to increase its presence in the Strait of Hormuz in response to attacks and seizures of commercial ships carried out by Iran.
The Department of Defense announced Monday it will send the U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Thomas Hudner, along with additional fighter jets, including F-35s and F-16s, to the U.S. Central Command (Centcom) area of responsibility to protect freedom of navigation in the region.
The move comes after Iran has attacked or seized about 20 merchant vessels since 2021, according to Centcom. The majority of targeted vessels, if not all, have been registered in foreign countries.
Earlier this month, the Iranian navy attempted to illegally seize two ships in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, according to Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.
One of the ships, the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker TRF Moss, was approached by an Iranian naval vessel on July 5, but Iranian vessel departed after the arrival of the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul. That same day, the Bahamian-flagged oil tanker Richmond Voyager, chartered by U.S. oil major Chevron, was approached by an Iranian naval vessel and fired upon after Iran accused it of being involved in a collision with an Iranian boat. The Iranian vessel left when the USS McFaul arrived. Chevron denied the accusation.
“One attempt included an Iranian navy ship firing upon the merchant vessel,” she said. “In light of this continued threat and in coordination with our partners and allies, the department is increasing our presence and ability to monitor the strait and surrounding waters.”
Singh urged Iran to stop actions that threaten the free flow of commerce through the strategic waterway, which supplies more than 1/5 of the world’s oil.
The latest action comes after the Department of Defense in May said it was increasing patrols in the Strait of Hormuz and collaborating with regional allies and partners to bolster its defensive posture in the Arabian Gulf, following Iran’s “unlawful merchant vessel seizures.” The U.S. 5th Fleet is also working to enhance international maritime security collaboration in the area.
In April, Iran seized another Chevron-chartered tanker, the Marshall Islands-flagged Advantage Sweet, in the Gulf of Oman.
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