US Navy Starts Accompanying Commercial Ships into Gulf
The US Navy has started accompanying US-flagged commercial ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz, according to defense officials quoted by Agence France-Presse.
The decision comes in the wake of the seizure of Maersk Tigris containership by Iranian patrol boats as the boxship was steaming its way through the strait on Tuesday.
As informed by Washington officials, the navy will keep a close eye on its commercial vessels but would not carry out a full-fledged escort.
Responding to the arrest, Iran said that Maersk Tigris was seized due to an unresolved cargo claim dating back from 2005.
Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization stressed that this issue has a legal aspect and should not be attributed to political issues.
Both Maersk Line, the charterer of the vessel, and Rickmers Group, manager of the vessel, urged for imminent release of the ship and its crew,stressing that neither should be caught in the middle of a claim in which they are not directly involved.
The US Navy said it has sent the USS Farragut guided-missile destroyer and a P-3 surveillance aircraft to the area to monitor the Maersk Tigris.
A representative of Rickmers Group was allowed on Thursday to board Maersk Tigris to check on 24 seafarers on board the vessel.
Based on Marine Traffic’s latest vessel tracking data, the 2014-built Maersk Tigris is at anchor in the Persian Gulf, around 7 nautical miles off Bandar Abbas.
“In his contacts with the crew our representative has been able to establish that all seafarers are safe and on board the vessel. Given the current circumstances they are all in a good condition,” the company said in an update.
“As we believe our crew, the vessel and our company have no part in the current issue between Iranand Maersk Line we see no valid reason for the detention of the ship and would therefore like to do an urgent and strong appeal to the Iranian authorities for the immediate release of our seafarers and the vessel,” the company said.
World Maritime News Staff