By Walid Shoebat
The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV network had reported that a US vessel “Maersk Tigers” had been seized and taken to an Iranian port.
The channel said the force had “opened fire” on the US ship, which had 34 American sailors aboard. It gave no further details.
The US Fifth Fleet in the Gulf Arab kingdom of Bahrain had no immediate comment on the report.
The Iranian news agency Fars reported that Iran had taken control of a US ship and its 34 crew for “trespassing” on its territorial waters.
All this, while an American official told Reuters there were “no indications so far” of any US ship being directed into the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
However, a Pentagon spokesman said a Marshall Islands-flagged ship had been boarded by the Iranian navy. This confirms that the incident is true but that they are not giving any details.
The Washington Times reported the story and the reason for the reports stating it was a “U.S. cargo ship” is that “the U.S. continues to have “full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands”:
Iranian troops boarded a cargo vessel early Tuesday morning after firing shots at the ship, prompting the U.S. to send assets to the ship’s defense.
The Pentagon said at least five Iranian patrol vessels approached the Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris cargo ship at 5:00 am eastern time as it was transiting the Straight of Hormuz and directed the ship to proceed further into Iranian waters.
When the ship’s master declined, the Iranian ship fired shots across the bow of the cargo vessel, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said. After shots were fired, the ship proceeded into Iranian waters near the vicinity of Larak Island. It was boarded by members of the Iranian military and is now unable to leave Iranian waters.
The Marshall Islands gained independence from the United States in 1986, but the U.S. continues to have “full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands,” according to the State Department’s website.
The Maersk Tigris issued a distress call, prompting U.S. Naval Forces Central Command to send the U.S. destroyer Farragut to the site as well as aircraft to observe the interaction, Col. Warren said. The destroyer is currently on the way, with no clear timetable of when it will arrive on the scene.
The U.S. assets are being sent to “monitor the situation,” Col. Warren said.
Last week, the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt moved off the coast of Yemen in response to an Iranian flotilla of cargo ships heading there. The Iranian ships turned away from Yemen on Thursday and headed up the coast of Oman instead, leading the U.S. to move its assets back to the Persian Gulf.
It’s now being widely reported that this ship was indeed from the Marshall Islands and has NO Americans on board.
Pentagon: US aircraft and destroyer Farragut responded to a distress signal from the ship “Maersk Tigers” and is monitoring the situation