US Navy now accompanying UK vessels in Strait of Hormuz
The US Navy is now accompanying all US and UK-flagged commercial vessels through the Strait of Hormuz following a request from the British government, the Pentagon has announced.
The move comes a week after Maersk Tigris was seized by Iranian naval forces while entering the Arabian Gulf bound for Jebel Ali port in the UAE.
US-flagged ships have for several days been accompanied by the US Navy in the Strait, but following talks between London and Washington, British vessels will also now receive protection.
The US last week said that it would accompany the ships of “any nation” that requested its help in the Strait of Hormuz, where tensions have escalated due to Iran’s actions.
US officials have been careful to use the word ‘accompany’ rather than ‘escort’ as US naval vessels will not be able to protect commercial ships as they transit the Iranian territorial waters section of the Strait.
The move comes at a time of heightened tensions in the region as a result of the conflict in Yemen between the US-supported Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-backed rebels.
It is unclear what rules of engagement the US Navy has to intervene if Iranian forces attempt to interfere with the navigation of another merchant vessel.