By DoD News
By C. Todd Lopez
“In response to a number of recent, alarming events in the Strait of Hormuz, the secretary of defense has ordered the deployment of the of the destroyer USS Thomas Hudner, F-35 fighters and F-16 fighters to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to defend U.S. interests and safeguard freedom of navigation in the region,” said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh during a briefing.
Earlier this month, Singh said, the Iranian navy attempted to illegally seize two merchant vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.
“One attempt included an Iranian navy ship firing upon the merchant vessel,” Singh said. “In light of this continued threat and in coordination with our partners and allies, the department is increasing our presence and ability to monitor the strait and surrounding waters.”
According to a news report from U.S. Central Command, on July 5, U.S. forces already in Centcom’s area of responsibility participated in preventing two commercial tanker ships from being seized by the Iranian military in international waters near the coast of Oman.
One of those ships, the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker TRF Moss, was approached by an Iranian naval vessel, but that naval vessel departed after the arrival of the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul.
Later that same day, the Bahamian-flagged oil tanker Richmond Voyager was also approached by an Iranian naval vessel. That Iranian naval vessel got within one mile of the tanker and fired on it using small arms and crew-served weapons. As happened with the TRF Moss, the Iranian vessel departed when the USS McFaul arrived on the scene.
“We call upon Iran to immediately cease these destabilizing actions that threaten the free flow of commerce through this strategic waterway, of which the world depends on for more than 1/5 of the world’s oil supply,” Singh said.
Singh also said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley tomorrow will host a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group from the Pentagon.
“They will join ministers of defense and chiefs of defense from nearly 50 nations from around the world to discuss Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and continue close coordination to provide Ukraine with the security assistance they need to protect their people and defend their country,” she said.