Following Iran’s seizure of several tankers, the U.S. Navy announced Monday that over 3,000 US military personnel have arrived in the Red Sea aboard two warships as part of stepped-up deployments.
In a previously announced deployment, U.S. sailors and Marines entered the Red Sea on Sunday after passing through the Suez Canal, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, AFP reported.
According to the statement, the Fifth Fleet received “greater flexibility and maritime capability” due to their arrival on board the USS Bataan and USS Carter Hall warships.
As part of its efforts to exert pressure on the West over talks surrounding its disintegrated nuclear deal with Western powers, Iran has seized several ships in the Strait, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, since 2019. Putting the American military on commercial ships may serve as a further deterrent to Iran’s attempted vessel seizure or may serve to heighten tensions.
As the Pentagon tries to concentrate on Russia and China, the move would also signal the American military’s extraordinary commitment to the Middle East. The so-called “Tanker War,” which resulted in the U.S. Navy and Iran engaging in one-day naval combat in 1988, the Navy’s most significant since World War II, didn’t even see America take action.
According to the U.S. military, during the past two years, Iran has attempted to grab control of or seize over 20 ships in the area flying international flags.
The move was made after Washington said its forces on July 5 prevented Iran from seizing two commercial tankers in international waters off the coast of Oman.