Reports on this are unconfirmed and the United States is denying, but British media (including the Telegraph and the BBC) is reporting that a US cargo vessel was fired on and then seized by Iranian officials this morning, and has been taken to an Iranian port. The Iranians maintained that the ship was trespassing in the Persian Gulf.
Iranian forces have reportedly fired at and seized a US cargo ship with 34 sailors on board, according to Saudi Arabian state TV.
The vessel has been directed to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the southern coast, Al-Arabiya has reported.
It remains unclear why or if the ship was captured, and whether the shots injured anyone on-board, as neither US nor Iranian officials have confirmed the allegations. The US Fifth Fleet off the coast of Bahrain had no immediate comment on the report, according to Reuters.
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency suggested that the ship was trespassing in the Persian Gulf.
However, a US official told Reuters that there are no indications so far that any US ship is being directed by Iranian forces.
The Pentagon released a statement a short time ago indicating that the ship, the MV Maerk Tigris, is registered to the Marshall Islands and that no Americans are on board. Regardless of how anyone feels about the negotiations process over Iran’s nuclear material, let us hope that’s true. I’ll update if I get any further information.
UPDATE: According to ABC News, the ship is registered to the Marshall Islands, which has “free association” with the United States but is not officially a United States ship. Iran did fire on the ship and board it, trying to threaten it to stay in International lanes, as the ship veered north, off course. The Pentagon seems to be admitting that the ship crossed into Iranian territorial waters. The Pentagon did dispatch a destroyer that was located nearby to assist the ship, but they stayed in International waters. According to Al Jazeera, by way of Twitter, the Iranians are no longer holding the ship.
There are no indications that this was a power play by Iranian forces, though the motivation for firing on and boarding the ship remains in question.