U.S. 5th Fleet, along with other allies in the Middle East, will increase the number of ships and aircraft patrolling the Strait of Hormuz in response to Iran’s recent seizures of merchant vessels, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command announced Friday.
The increased patrols are meant to deter any further Iranian seizures, according to a news release. The Navy did not indicate what ships may be involved.
“Iran’s unwarranted, irresponsible and unlawful seizure and harassment of merchant vessels must stop,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in the release. “U.S. 5th Fleet and our partners are committed to protecting navigational rights in these critical waters.”
Earlier this month, Iranian forces seized the second oil tanker in less than a week, USNI News previously reported. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy flanked Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi while it transited the Strait of Hormuz, video released by Naval Forces Central Command shows. The IRGCN forced the oil tanker to travel into Iranian waters, where it seized Niovi.
The Iranian Navy, a separate military force, also seized an oil tanker in early May. The Iranian Navy and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, while both Iranian forces, are separate with different missions.
Over the past two years, Iran has interfered with 15 internationally-flagged merchant vessels, according to the Naval Forces Central Command news release.