US Navy to stop escorting US flagged ships in Strait of Hormuz

The stand-off in the Strait of Hormuz triggered by the seizure of the Maersk Tigris has de-escalated over the last day, with the Pentagon announcing the U.S. Navy will cease escorting U.S. and British flagged vessels through the 21-mile wide strategic choke point:

The apparent stand-down in the strait, where American and Iranian forces once battled each other in the 1980s, appeared to reflect efforts by both sides not to allow any show of military bravado to complicate and possibly sabotage multilateral diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement on Iran’s contentious nuclear program. Those negotiations face a June 30 deadline.

Early this morning local time Iranian officials announced the release of the Maersk Tigris without providing further details of the circumstances. The Maersk Tigris had been seized on April 28 due to a legal dispute between an unspecified commercial Iranian party and the ship owner, Rickmers Shipmanagement, and the political and security implications had been downplayed by the Iranian Government.

Iran is entering the final phase of negotiations with the 5+1 Powers on a path to formalize their domestic nuclear program and remove economic sanctions which have crippled their economy. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out yesterday at what he perceived to be at least two separate recent military threats made toward Iran, one of which possibly being the U.S. Navy escort operation in the Strait of Hormuz.

 

[New York Times][CNN][Photo Credit: Getty Images]