US considering placement of military personnel on commercial ships to safeguard transits of Hormuz Strait

The US is considering the placement of military support on commercial ships that are transiting the Strait of Hormuz, according to news agency reports.

The source of the leaks, although almost certainly official, was not known. The idea is a response to a sequence of vessel seizures by Iranian forces, usually members of the Revolutionary Guard.

While the military planning was thought to be at an advanced stage, it has not yet received final approval. Both Washington and the Pentagon have remained tight-lipped on the matter. If approved, US marines and navy sailors would only provide the security if a transiting ship requested it.

International protection moves such as this are never simple, as was evidenced when international efforts were first mooted as a response to a surge in kidnappings and hi-jackings in the Gulf of Guinea a few years ago.

Any placement of US forces on a commercial vessel would require the approval of the country under which the ship was flagged and also of the country under which the owner is registered. Usually these are different from the countries of the companies leasing the vessel and the owners of the cargo.

At the end of July a naval exercise took place in the Arabian Gulf, with representatives from Bahrain, the UK and the US. International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) – an 11-nation coalition – conducted an exercise named Sentinel Shield aboard a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The aircraft practiced airborne reconnaissance and surveillance.