US plans Gulf naval escorts for ships after Iran tries to seize British tanker

The US and its allies are discussing plans to provide naval escorts for oil tankers through the Gulf, a top US general said on Thursday, hours after three armed Iranian boats attempted to seize a British oil tanker.

General Mark Milley, nominated to become the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing that the US has a “crucial role” in enforcing freedom of navigation in the Gulf.

He said the US was attempting to put together a coalition “in terms of providing military escort, naval escort to commercial shipping.”

3 Iranian IRGC boats attempted to seize British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf (2)

Tensions in the Gulf have increased in the past few weeks, with Iran’s economy in free fall following the re-imposition of US sanctions after President Donald Trump pulled out from a 2015 international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Milley’s statement came after the British defense ministry said three Iranian vessels unsuccessfully tried to seize a British commercial vessel in the Strait of Hormuz.

The British government said in a statement on Thursday that the Iranian vessels only turned away after receiving “verbal warnings” from a UK navy vessel accompanying the commercial vessel British Heritage.

The incident comes a week after British Royal Marines seized an Iranian supertanker carrying oil to Syria off the coast of Gibraltar, a dramatic step that drew Tehran’s fury.