Western navy commanders transit Strait of Hormuz in provocation to Iran
The Cradle, May 20, 2023 —
The US and its allies have been bolstering their naval presence off Iran’s shores at a time the west continues to lose influence across West Asia.
The commanders of the US, UK, and French navies deployed to West Asia on 19 May transited the Strait of Hormuz aboard a US warship in “a sign of their unified approach” against Iran.
“Iran has seized or attacked 15 ships in the last two years. Eight seizures and seven attacks,” US Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, who oversees the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, claimed in comments to AP.
The 5th Fleet patrols the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf to keep the waterways open for international trade and to project US military power in the region.
Cooper was joined for Friday’s operation by Joint Commander of the French Forces Deployed in the Indian Ocean, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Slaars, and UK Maritime Component Commander Commodore Philip Dennis.
“The Paul Hamilton team is doing remarkable work as we step up our patrols with regional allies and partners,” Cooper said in a US navy press release. “This effort is about enhancing our collective vigilance and presence.”
Tensions have been simmering between the US and Iranian navies in the Persian Gulf for over a year.
Tehran recently announced the seizure of at least two foreign-flagged oil tankers that reportedly violated the nation’s maritime security.
The seizures came just weeks after the US navy deployed a nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine to the region “to help ensure regional maritime security and stability” and in response to Iranian strikes against US troops occupying Syria and public threats made by Iran against commercial ships in the Persian Gulf.
Despite the bold move by the Pentagon, a few days later, the USS Florida submarine was forced to retreat from the Strait of Hormuz by the Iranian navy after violating Tehran’s territorial waters.
The US navy has also been forming a so-called ‘drone fleet‘ over the past year to counter the Iranian navy in the Persian Gulf.
On top of these provocative actions, last month group of US lawmakers recently urged the White House to step up seizures of Iranian oil shipments at sea, lamenting how “Iranian oil sales continue to rise.”
Tehran has referred to such US actions as ‘maritime piracy.’
Because the Strait of Hormuz borders Iran, the Islamic Republic views the US Navy’s presence as provocative and has pointed out that a similar Iranian naval presence in the Gulf of Mexico would be unacceptable to the US government.