US military officials say the Navy has rescued an Iranian fishing boat that had been commandeered by suspected Somali pirates.
The rescue comes amid escalating threats from Iran that it could block the Strait of Hormuz in response to stronger economic sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear enrichment program.
US officials say American forces flying off the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd responded to a distress call from the Iranian ship, the Al Molai. A US Navy team boarded the ship and detained 15 pirates who had been holding the 13-member Iranian crew hostage for more than 40 days, and were using the vessel as a "mother ship" for pirating operations in the Gulf.
US officials say the Iranian captain expressed his gratitude for the rescue.