The civilian crew reported three fast-attack craft with armed personnel approached and followed the merchant vessel at close distance.
The US Navy and Royal Navy forces responded to a distress call from a merchant vessel transiting the Strait of Hormuz, on Jun. 4, 2023 as Iranian fast-attack boats harassed the commercial ship.
According to a US Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs news release, the internationally flagged merchant vessel made a radio distress call at 4:56 p.m. local time while transiting the narrow strait. The civilian crew reported three fast-attack craft with armed personnel approached and followed the merchant vessel at close distance. The fast-attacked craft were assessed to be from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy.
US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul (DDG 74) and UK Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster (F 229) both received the distress call, and Lancaster launched a helicopter to provide surveillance. US 5th Fleet also directed a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to monitor the scene, as the images in this post show.
The situation deescalated approximately an hour later when the merchant vessel confirmed the fast-attack craft departed the scene. The merchant ship continued transiting the Strait of Hormuz without further incident.
20% of the world’s oil pass through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.
The US Navy did not identify the vessel involved, but ship-tracking data from MarineTraffic.com analyzed by The Associated Press showed the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Venture erratically changed course as it traveled through the strait at the time of the incident. As reported by AP News, its location also matched information about the incident given by the UK Maritime Trade Operations, a British military operation overseeing traffic in the region. The vessel also resembled the images released by the Navy.
This latest incident comes after a series of maritime incidents involving Iran following the US withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.
As then told by T-Intelligence, airborne- and surface-based fleet air defense elements, such as F/A-18s and at least two guided-missile destroyers safeguarded the US Navy flattop during the exfiltration.
Photo credit: US Navy