In response to a request from London, the U.S. Navy has agreed to begin accompanying British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz in the wake of Iran’s detention of the Maersk Tigris cargo ship last week, a Defense Department spokesman said Monday.
The Maersk Tigris and its crew continue to be held by Iranian authorities over what Tehran says is a decade-old cargo dispute. But an international law scholar argued in Sunday’s Washington Post that there is “simply no basis” under the laws that govern maritime traffic “for arresting a ship for any debts incurred during prior voyages, and certainly not for those incurred by other ships.”
A U.S. Navy destroyer and three patrol boats have already shadowed several U.S.-flagged ships through the Strait since last Thursday, Army Col. Steve Warren said Monday. And over the weekend, a Navy vessel also accompanied one British ship through the strait, which is one of the most critical chokepoints in the global oil trade.