US cargo ship saved from pirates by Iranian navy

 

Iran and an American-led naval coalition each said today that they responded to a distress call by a US-flagged cargo ship that came under fire from gunmen in the Gulf of Oman a day earlier.

Armed guards aboard the 488-foot (148-meter) Maersk Texas thwarted the attack northeast of the Emirati port of Fujairah, Danish shipper A.P. Moller-Maersk said. The attack happened not far from the tense waters of the Strait of Hormuz, a key transit point for a fifth of the world's oil.

The Copenhagen-headquartered company said armed attackers in "multiple pirate skiffs" raced straight toward the ship around noon Wednesday despite clear warning signals from the Texas. Guards on board fired warning shots, but the suspected pirates opened fire, prompting ship guards to shoot back at them, according to the shipping line.

No one on the Texas was injured in the incident, and the ship continued on its voyage to the US, Maersk said.

Iranian news agencies reported that the suspected pirates fled when Iran's navy intervened after responding to an emergency call from the American ship.

Lt. Cdr. Mark Hankey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces, was unable to confirm Iran's role in the incident. He also cast doubt on whether the event was an act of piracy at all.

"The full facts of the event have yet to be fully ascertained. Piracy has to be judged according to a number of factors. It is not clear from the information available to date whether this was a piracy event," Hankey said.
Somali pirates have been increasing their range, but attacks near the Strait of Hormuz remain relatively rare.

Hankey declined to say who the attackers might have been if not pirates, though he noted that fishermen and smugglers frequent the area. He did not suggest that the Iranian military, which operates a fleet of small, fast attack craft, might be involved.

The Combined Maritime Forces is a naval partnership including more than two dozen nations that operates in and around the Middle East. It is commanded by a US Navy admiral.

An Australian ship assigned to the multinational force, the HMAS Melbourne, picked up a distress call from the American ship, Hankey said. It dispatched a helicopter to monitor the situation and set a course to assist.

Iran's official IRNA news agency and semiofficial Mehr news service reported that the Islamic Republic's navy helped thwart the attack. IRNA said an Iranian naval vessel picked up a distress call from the ship, and because of the navy's "vigilance and timely reaction ... the pirates fled the scene."

While he was not aware of Iranian aid to the Texas, Hankey said such assistance would not necessarily be out of the ordinary.

"If you hear of a vessel in distress, you do your best to assist" on the high seas, he said. "If the Iranians responded to a mayday call, then that's perfectly normal activity... That's what this whole mayday call is about."

American ships have occasionally come to the aid of Iranian merchant vessels in similar circumstances.

AP

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

Head of Business Studies

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Head of Business Studies needed for a ...

Teaching Assistant in secondary school Manchester

£11280 - £14400 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Teaching a...

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits