A ship traveling in international waters, owned by a company with significant ties to the U.S. government and flagged to the U.S.-protected Marshall Islands, was diverted under fire by Iranian naval forces to the port of Bandar Abbas.
The Hill reported more:
The Pentagon says the ship at the center of the dispute is the MV Maersk Tigris, and is flagged from the Marshall Islands, according to Reuters.
Separately, Iran’s official news agency said the ship was “stopped and seized” by Iranian warships.
The Times of Israel reported:
Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the cargo ship’s master had initially refused an Iranian order to move further into Iranian waters, but after the warning shots were fired the MV Maersk Tigris complied.
Warren said the cargo ship has been boarded by Iranians, but no one has been injured and no Americans are involved.
Warren said the cargo ship issued a distress call and the US Naval Forces Central Command, based in the area, sent a US destroyer and an aircraft to the area of the incident to monitor the situation.
While the Marshall Islands is a sovereign country, the U.S. “has full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands,” according to the U.S. State Department. Maersk, the shipping line whose vessel was commandeered, is one of the largest employers of U.S. merchant mariners, and “operate[s], manage[s] and maintain[s] ships for the U.S. government ships in preposition and surge sealift capacities,” according to its website.
Patrick Megahan, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, noted that Maersk Tigris was in international waters when it was seized.
Maersk Tigris was clearly in international waters and diverted by Iranian navy pic.twitter.com/3hVbLy0KlG
— Patrick Megahan (@PatMegahan) April 28, 2015
Last week at a State Department briefing, Acting Spokesperson Marie Harf emphasized that the move of U.S. naval vessels to Yemen was not to intercept Iranian ships but “only to ensure the shipping lanes remain open and safe.”
Update: Closing thought.
If they're willing to attack a US #MarshallIslands ship while negotiating with Obama, how aggressive will Iran be after they get nukes?— Doug Ross (@directorblue) April 28, 2015