Operation Sentinel Launched
Tensions in the Gulf have escalated during recent months.
Iranian forces have been blamed for attacks on shipping and the seizure of a British flagged tanker.
A new naval taskforce has been established in the region, to protect commercial shipping through the region, in particular, the Strait of Hormuz.
Known as the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), it is made up of seven nations, including the UK.
The mission, Operation Sentinal, was launched during a ceremony at the coalition’s headquarters in Bahrain.
Speaking at the event, Vice Admiral James Malloy, Commander of the US Fifth Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said: “We’ve observed attacks on shipping by state actors who seek to clandestinely hide in and obfuscate their complicity in public denials.”
The taskforce was formed in the wake of heightened tensions in the region over the past six months, including the seizure of a British-flagged tanker in July.
Iran has been blamed by numerous nations for attacking and seizing ships in the Gulf.
Each nation in the coalition is sending naval ships to escort shipping through the region in the hope of deterring Iran.
Operation Sentinel is being run from inside a large tent at the US naval base in Bahrain.
Personnel stationed at the Bahrain base will be in charge of tracking shipping going through the area.
In particular, they will monitor the situation in the Strait of Hormuz, the flashpoint in recent confrontations with Tehran.
“We can’t be in all places at all times,” said Commander Ben Keith, Head of Operations at IMSC.
“We can never give 100% assurance that we can stop all of that, which is a huge frustration and disappointment, certainly with the Royal Navy with the Stena Impero that got taken and we couldn’t protect.”
The roots of the current situation in the Gulf extend back to 2018 when US President Donald Trump withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran and ramped up sanctions.
In May this year, the US sent a carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf, alleging Tehran was planning a campaign against American forces and shipping around the Strait of Hormuz.
A week later, four commercial ships were attacked in the Gulf of Oman.
The Pentagon released footage claiming it showed Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the ships.