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U.S. Sends Extra Destroyer to Counter Iranian Threat at Strait of Hormuz

Iranian Navy
The Iranian Navy warship that fired on the tanker Richmond Voyager last month (U.S. 5th Fleet)

Published Jul 18, 2023 7:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy is dispatching an extra Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to the Persian Gulf to escort ships through the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon announced on Monday. The increased surface force presence will be augmented by extra F-16 and F-35 fighters, which will complement existing U.S. Air Force assets in the region. 

USS Thomas Hudner, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer commissioned in 2018, will join U.S. 5th Fleet to assist with security patrols. The destroyer was recently part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group on a deployment to Europe. 

Deployment of the warship and fighter jets comes just weeks after the White House directed the U.S. Navy bolster its posture in the Arabian Gulf region. The move is a response to increasing harassment of commercial vessels by Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Iranian Navy. Twice in the last month, Iranian forces have attempted to threaten foreign-flagged tankers. In one of the attempts, Iranian soldiers fired on the Bahamian-flagged oil tanker Richmond Voyager. The U.S. Navy intervened before the tanker sustained serious damage or harm to her crew, though several rounds hit near the crew accommodations. 

Iran also attempted to seize the tanker TRF Moss in the Gulf of Oman. The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker was saved by destroyer USS McFaul, which arrived on station and forced the Iranian vessel to depart the scene.

Since 2021, Iran has harassed or attacked nearly 20 foreign-flag vessels, including five which were seized - and often held for use as leverage in diplomatic negotiations. According to the U.S. Navy, this is a "clear threat" to regional maritime security and the global economy. 

“We call upon Iran to immediately cease these destabilizing actions that threaten the free flow of commerce through this strategic waterway,"  said Sabrina Singh, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary.