The Pentagon announced on Friday that it was deploying F-16 warplanes to the Persian Gulf as air cover for the ships moving through the Persian Gulf and “increasing the US military’s visibility in the area as a deterrent to Iran.” This week, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) navy tried to commandeer two oil tankers sailing in international waters in the Persian Gulf on July 6, opening fire on one of them.
The Chevron oil company confirmed to Reuters that it managed the Richmond Voyager, that its crew was safe, and that the vessel was operating normally.
“Prior to McFaul’s arrival on scene, Iranian personnel fired multiple, long bursts from both small arms and crew-served weapons,” the statement said. “Richmond Voyager sustained no casualties or significant damage. However, several rounds hit the ship’s hull near crew living spaces. The Iranian Navy vessel departed when McFaul arrived.”
Iran said it had obtained a court order for the seizure of the Richmond Voyager tanker after it collided with an Iranian vessel after it collided with an Iranian vessel carrying seven crew members. Five people were seriously injured in the collision, the IRINN news agency said, citing the statement.
The F16s will augment the A-10 attack aircraft that had been patrolling the area for one week. The Iranian naval vessels retreated after the USS McFaul, a guided-missile destroyer, arrived on the scene.
Officials have said that, in the past two years, Iran has harassed, attacked or interfered with the navigational rights of 15 internationally flagged commercial vessels.