Iran Navy Helps U.S. Ship Attacked By Pirates In Middle East

(Michelle Wiese Bockmann)   Iran’s navy helped a U.S.-flagged cargo ship that was attacked by pirates off the United Arab Emirates, according to the vessel’s owner, Maersk Line Ltd.

The Iranian navy was the first to respond to the initial distress call from the Maersk Texas, Kevin Speers, senior director of marketing at Maersk Line, said by phone today. The vessel was attacked by several skiffs and armed guards on board returned fire, the company said in an earlier statement.

The incident happened at about noon northeast of Fujairah, the biggest port in the Middle Eastfor refueling oil tankers, Maersk said. Iran’s navy provided guidance to the crew of the Maersk Texas by radio, Speers said, declining to comment further pending a debriefing.

U.S., U.K., Chinese, French, German and Russian negotiators — the so-called P5+1 group — are meeting with Iranian officials in Baghdad today over the Persian Gulf country’s nuclear program. The West suspects Iran’s goal is to develop a weapon, while Iran contends it is for civilian purposes.

The European Union’s counter-piracy force said it had reviewed the incident and determined there was “no case of piracy and it’s a false alarm,” Timo Lange, a spokesman for Northwood, England-based EU Navfor, said by phone today. EU Navfor operates nine warships and five maritime patrol aircraft as part of an operation combating piracy in the region, according to data on its website.

Full story here.

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