Iran’s Fars News agency claimed that Iran fired on and seized an American cargo ship in the Persian Gulf Tuesday, directing it toward the southern port city of Bandar Abbas.
The claim corresponds to a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, the Maersk Tigris, which had been en route to the port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates before suddenly veering in the direction of Iranian waters. Maersk is a major Danish shipping conglomerate with worldwide interests, and a significant business presence in the U.S.
Pentagon reporters cited officials who said that “no Americans” were aboard the vessel. This is contrary to Fars’ claim that “the Iranian Navy has confiscated the American trade vessel with all its 34 crew for trespassing on Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.
The USS Farragut, a Navy destroyer, has reportedly moved to aid the ship, according to Pentagon officials, following warning shots that Iran’s Navy fired across the Tigris’ bow. The Marshall Islands is a sovereign nation, but its diplomatic agreements with the U.S. give the Pentagon “full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands.”
Fars, which several days ago claimed the Islamic State terror group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had died in an Israeli hospital, cited Saudi news organization Al-Arabiya in its report. As of publication, Al-Arabiya was the only source for the story, claiming that “up to 34 American sailors” were aboard.
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