World military leaders are discussing a plan to provide naval escorts for oil tankers transiting through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
U.S. General Mark Milley, nominated by President Donald Trump to become the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing on Thursday the United States plays a crucial role in enforcing freedom of navigation in the Gulf.
Milley, currently chief of staff of the U.S. Armed Forces, added that the U.S. has been discussing with its allies the formation of an international naval escort for oil tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab on either side of the Arabian Peninsula, where much of the global crude oil traffic passes.
The general said the U.S. is trying to put together a coalition “in terms of providing military escort, naval escort, to commercial shipping. . . I think that will be developing over the next couple weeks,” he said.
The news comes in the wake of a report that five Iranian gun boats attempted on Thursday to seize the BP-owned British Heritage, a British supertanker in retaliation for the seizure of an Iranian-owned oil tanker by British naval forces together with those of Gibraltar.
The attempt failed when the British warship HMS Montrose materialized a few moments later and turned its guns towards the Iranian boats. “We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region,” said a spokesperson for Downing Street.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps denied involvement but also warned both the United States and Britain they would “strongly regret” the British seizure of the Grace 1 – an Iranian-owned oil tanker carrying Iranian crude oil for delivery to Syria that was seized off the Gibraltar coast last week.