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U.S. Navy stops accompanying ships through Strait of Hormuz

By Danielle Haynes
U.S. Navy stops accompanying ships through Strait of Hormuz
The guided missile destroyer USS Farragut and three Cyclone-class patrol boats are no longer accompanying U.S. commercial vessels through the Strait of Hormuz. File photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Deven B. King/U.S. Navy

WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy will no longer accompany commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz as tensions -- sparked by an Iranian patrol boat seizing a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship last month -- die down.

The USS Farragut, a guided missile destroyer, and three Cyclone-class coast patrol boats, were deployed to the narrow channel of water between Iran and Oman on Thursday to protect U.S. commercial vessels as they passed through.

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The plan was reduce the risk of confrontation between cargo vessels and Iran after Iranian boats twice harassed Maersk ships.

Army Col. Steven Warren, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, told reporters Wednesday the boats would stop actively accompanying commercial vessels, though they remain in the vicinity. He said the move was made because there had been no further incidents with Iran.

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The tension started April 24 when Iranian Revolutionary Guard ships harassed the U.S.-flagged Maersk Kensington commercial vessel, then seized the Maersk Tigris on April 28.

The Maersk Tigris, a cargo ship sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands, was traveling through the Strait to the United Arab Emirates when it was intercepted by five Iranian ships. The cargo ship sent a distress call after shots were fired, the distress signal picked up by the USS Farragut, which was sailing in the area.

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The ship was diverted to the nearby Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. About 30 crewmen were aboard the captured ship.

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Iran said its seizure of the Maersk Tigris was a business issue unrelated to military tensions in the region.

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