WASHINGTON, May 1 (Xinhua) — U.S. Navy ships have begun escorting U.S.-flagged commercial vessels traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, according to a statement of U.S. Defense Department on Friday.
The move is in response to increasingly provocative behavior by the Iranian navy in the strait within the last week, the DOD statement said.
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.
According to the statement, the action 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, it said.
The statement did not say how many U.S. warships would accompany each merchant vessel but said “we have sufficient number of forces to meet the accompanying mission.”