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article imageNaval Incident Raises U.S.-Iran Tensions

By Owen Weldon     Apr 26, 2008 in World
Two warning shots were fired after two small unidentified boats approached a U.S. flagged cargo ship transiting the Persian Gulf.
The cargo ship was contracted out to the U.S. Navy and the ship reported that the Iranian coast guard contacted it shortly after the incident. The latest incident has caused new tensions between Washington and Tehran in the oil-rich Gulf.
Of course the latest incident has impacted the global oil markets and futures for benchmark U.S. crude rose to $2.46 and closed at $118.52 Friday.
The Navy has a mixed record when it comes to dealing with seaborne threats to its ships in the Middle East and even President Bush had to apologize to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak because of an incident that involved security personnel on another ship under contract to the Navy fired on a boat in the Suez Canal and one crew member was killed.
The boat ended up being one of the many commercial bloats that flood the canal, selling goods to seafarers. A spokeswoman for the Navy's Fifth Fleet, which operates in the Middle East, said that she had no more information to give out about the Egyptian incident.
The Persian Gulf is known for being a crowded waterway and is known for being packed with many U.S. Navy ships and allied warships at any given time. Small fishing boats also occupy the Gulf but they are usually easy to identify because they are usually wooden dhows and they operate without standard navigational equipment, such as radios.
According to a statement released by the Fifth Fleet the Westward Venture, the 1,000 foot long vessel owned by Totem Ocean Trailer Express Inc., attempted to contact the craft but no one responded and the ship than fired flares. The boats continued towards the Westward Venture and a U.S. Navy security detachment fired waring shots.
After the incident the Westward Venture reported that it received a query from the Iranian coast guard. The statement said that it was not clear if this was one of the small boats or a separate boat.
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