Iran seized a Western commercial cargo ship in the Persian Gulf early Tuesday and ordered it to sail into Iranian territorial waters.
Pentagon says MV Maersk Tigris
, which was thought to have entered Iranian waters, was intercepted by Iranian vessel – but did not belong to US.
Warning shots were fired but no injuries were reported, a shipping agency said. Thirty-four crew members were reported aboard.
There are no Americans in the crew of more than 30 aboard the container ship Maersk Tigris, defense officials said, and the vessel is registered in the Marshall Islands.
The Iranian navy seized the ship at the request of the Iran Ports Authority under a court order, according to the English service of Iran's Fars News Agency.
The Maersk Tigris and all its crew members were steered towards the Iranian island of Qeshm near the southern port city of Bandar Abbas after it was intercepted by an Iranian naval vessel.
The ship was on an “internationally recognized maritime route” when it was intercepted by the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval force, US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters in Washington, says a Bloomberg report.
The U.S. has the ship under observation by maritime patrol aircraft, and the destroyer USS Farragut has been ordered to make best speed to the closest point it can in international waters.
In a statement, Maersk line said: “Our paramount concern is the safety and well-being of the crew. We are working in close dialogue with Rickmers Shipmanagement to obtain information about the seizure and explore options to help resolve this situation.”
Defense officials said Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol vessels evidently ordered the Maersk Tigris to stop as it was underway in the Strait of Hormuz on its way into the Persian Gulf, but the ship’s crew initially did not comply.