Iranian Naval Force Seizes Danish Cargo Ship

US Navy Responds

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Elements of the Iran Revolutionary Council Guard Navy (IRCGN) have boarded and seized a Danish-owned cargo ship, MV Maersk Tigris (originally bound for the UAE from Saudi Arabia) in the Persian Gulf, earlier today.

An earlier report from the Iranian FARS News Agency claimed that the MV Maersk Tigris was a US-owned cargo ship. The report also claimed that the trade vessel was seized by the Iranian naval forces at the request of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation. The order was officially issued regarding alleged long-standing overdue payments that the vessel’s account owed to the IPMO. The ship was reportedly boarded and directed to the southern Iranian Port of Bandar Abbas.

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940208001509

According to Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren, the container ship was in Iranian waters [near the Straits of Hormuz] when it was approached and surrounded by a group of Iranian patrol vessels at approximately 0905 Zulu (GMT). Subsequently, the Maersk Tigris reportedly sent out a distress signal that was monitored by US Navy forces in the Persian Gulf area.

“The [ship]master was contacted and directed to proceed further into Iranian territorial waters,” He declined and one of the IRGCN craft fired shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris. The master complied with the Iranian demand and proceeded into Iranian waters in the vicinity of Larak Island.”, he said.

Pentagon officials stated that the guided missile destroyer, the USNS Farragut, (DDG-99, Arleigh Burke class) and surveillance aircraft of the US Central Naval Command (NAVCENT) have been dispatched to the area. NAVCENT has also “directed aircraft to observe the interaction between the Maersk vessel and the IRGCN [Iranian] craft.

However, the ship’s manager, Cor Radings, a spokesman for Rickmers ship management, told Bloomberg that the ship, chartered by Rickmers, was in international waters when the Iranians approached it.

www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-28/ship-seized-by-iran-wasn-t-u-s-flagged-pentagon-says

The 62,292-ton (dwt) container ship, MV Maersk Tigris (IMO-9694581 ) is owned by the Maersk Line, based in Denmark and is registered in the Marshall Islands. Its 34-member crew is multinational and includes Europeans. Pentagon officials have indicated that there are no U.S. citizens on board.

This contradicts initial reports, by the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya News Channel, which claimed that the ship was American owned and manned by American crew members.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/04/28/Iran-holds-U-S-ship-34-sailors-.html

A more detailed report is available at:

http://heavy.com/news/2015/04/maersk-tigris-mv-ship-marshall-islands-american-united-states-iran-seizes-cargo-commercial-vessel-strait-hormuz-crew-injuries-response-port-p

Further information on the MV Maersk Tigris is available at:

www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=741942

According to marinetraffic.com, as of 2015-04-28 18:35, the Maersk Tigris was at anchor at Latitude / Longitude: 27.03202° / 56.27347° in the Persian Gulf near the Iranian island of Qeshm across from Bandar Abbas.

http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/details/ships/shipid:1635726/mmsi:538005749/imo:9694581/vessel:MAERSK_TIGRIS

The IRCGN is a separate branch of the Iranian armed forces as distinct from the regular Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN), currently involved in international waters of the Gulf of Aden. Iranian political posture is integrally linked to this matter, as the IRCGN (formed after the 1979 Iranian Revolution) is more integrated with the Islamic Republican regime than the IRIN.

It is not clear at this point what direct jurisdiction and mission, beyond monitoring that the US Navy may have in this matter; however, according to a treaty, the US is responsible for the defense of the Marshall Islands, a UN-member South Pacific state.