Home » Budget Industry » U.S. Navy Ships Will Accompany American Merchant Ships Through Strait of Hormuz to Prevent IRGCN Harassment

U.S. Navy Ships Will Accompany American Merchant Ships Through Strait of Hormuz to Prevent IRGCN Harassment

120820-N-YF306-284 GULF OF ADEN (Aug. 20, 2012) The guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) approaches the Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier M/V Belde in response to a medical-related distress call issued by the vessel. Winston S. Churchill is assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 150, conducting counter-terrorism and maritime security operations in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and Indian Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Chase/Released)

Guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) approaches M/V Belde in the Gulf of Aden in 2012. US Navy Photo

Following the Tuesday seizure of the M/V Maersk Tigris, U.S. Navy warships will now accompany American flagged merchant ships through the Strait of Hormuz to prevent harassment Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy patrol boats, a U.S. defense official told USNI News on Thursday.

The official did not name any ships specifically to be used for the mission, but said U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) “would assign forces as they deem necessary” to “prevent harassment and possible interdiction by possible IRGCN costal patrols,” the official said.

The ships at NAVCENT’s disposal for the accompanying mission in the strait and the Persian Gulf include five Cyclone-class patrol craft, four Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers (DDG51), mine counter measures (MCM-6)) ship USS Devastator and guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60), USNI News understands.

The official did not give a timeline on the length of the mission.

Since Tuesday, U.S. warships have monitored Maersk Tigris at anchor near the Iranian port at Bandar Abbas

The move from NAVCENT comes two days after IRGCN patrol boats seized the cargo ship M/V Maersk Tigris for a previous Iranian legal claim against the Danish shipping line, according to a Thursday statement from Iran’s Port and Maritime Organization.

“Maersk officials said in a statement on Thursday that the ship had been stopped because of a dispute over 10 containers that were shipped from Iran to the United Arab Emirates in 2005,” reported The New York Times on Thursday.

The seizure on Tuesday follows the April 24, 2015 harassment of M/V Maersk Kensington by four IRGCN patrol boats, Pentagon officials said on Wednesday.

Though Iran claims the legal dispute is the sole reason for the seizure, some experts aren’t so sure.

“Iran’s actions against the Maersk Tigris appear to be part of an effort to demonstrate to both its internal population and an external worldwide audience that despite ongoing nuclear negotiations with the west, its military and maritime forces have not gone soft, and that the country is still able to disrupt shipping in the region if it so desires,” Eric Wertheim author of U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World, told USNI News on Wednesday.

The IRGCN is separate from the regular Iranian Navy and closely tied to the country’s sectarian Islamic hierarchy.

The group has been responsible for costal defense around the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf since 2007.

That same year, IRGCN forces captured 15 U.K. Royal Navy personnel embarked in a small boat from HMS Cornwall in international waters.

  • Curtis Conway

    I have said it before and I will say it again. ESCORT, a mission the US Navy has been playing down and trying to say ‘no longer exist’, is a Frigate Mission. This is not a mission I would send the current LCS to perform. I’m not even sure I would send the up-gunned LCS/FF on this mission. The FFG-7 with a Mk13 on board is perfect for this mission. Have you ever seen what an SM-1 Blk VI will do to a QST-35 SEPTAR?

    • Dan

      Curtis, why not arm Perry’s with Tube launched Harpoon and have boxed launched anti air and even a ABL Tomahawk?

      • Curtis Conway

        Man, I’m with you. However, at present we are only wishing. We need vessels now, and will need escorts in the future. Even this morning on the news, the term ESCORT was disparaged again. These Iranian swarming attacks require something present more than an LCS. This is the kind of activity that has been warned about in the Pacific, and here it is experienced somewhere else, but the ESCORT mission is no more? Sounds like someone is “on a river in Egypt” again, or has a G-d complex, except they are on our side of the street.

  • Curtis Conway

    Escorting merchantmen with cruisers and destroyers illustrates just how cost effective it is to have frigates. Our new little frigate design would provide TBMD, and have a 5″ gun to help discourage the swarming boats. The 100 to 500 Kilowatt Directed Energy Weapons, directed by the EO/IR directors, queued by the 9-module AMDR, would make fast work of them in seconds to a minute. Might even kick a 5″ round or two out there for the practice.

  • Eric Arllen

    The precise use of words matter. The unnamed “U.S. defense official” is reported to use only to term ‘accompany’ to describe the involvement of Navy ships in the latest situation with Iran. The previous commenters seem to assume this means ‘escort’ which is a real stretch. To accompany means travel together where escort implies a protective role engaged in while together.

    The real question is, “What are the Rules of Engagement?” Under what circumstances will force of arms be employed and to what degree?

    That question posed, I don’t think Iran really has much to worry about from this administration. Obama is so insistent on giving Iran our full surrender on nuclear arms he won’t let the high-seas national piracy of a merchant ship or however many follow to get in the way.