Photo Credit: U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / Information Systems Technician 1st Class Vincent Aguirre

U.S. Navy is increasing the rotation of ships and aircraft patrolling in and around the Strait of Hormuz following Iran’s recent merchant vessel seizures.

During a news release on Friday, the Pentagon accused Iran of harassing, attacking or interfering with the navigational rights of 15 internationally-flagged commercial vessels over the past two years.

The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet said on Friday that it was pushing to deter threats and “working with regional allies and partners to increase the rotation of ships and aircraft patrolling in and around the Strait of Hormuz following Iran’s recent unlawful merchant vessel seizures.”

It accused Iran of violating international law. “Iran’s unwarranted, irresponsible and unlawful seizure and harassment of merchant vessels must stop,” Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in a statement.

The US Navy claims that the increased force presence supports multinational efforts to deter threats to commercial shipping and reassure regional mariners. “In addition to heightened patrols, U.S. 5th Fleet is bolstering international maritime security collaboration among the International Maritime Security Construct and European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz.”

Iranian media reports said one tanker was taken into Iranian territorial waters on Friday as the result of a judicial order following a legal complaint.

An Iranian oil tanker has been retaken in a joint operation by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy and Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, Iranian state-owned news network Press TV reported.

As it is reported by the Iranian news network, a 10,000-ton oil tanker which was illegally seized by a foreign company five years ago, had returned to the country’s territorial waters following a judicial order and a joint operation carried out by the IRGC Navy and Intelligence Ministry.

Earlier this month a Panama-flagged oil tanker was seized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) while transiting the Strait of Hormuz.

The oil tanker departed Dubai and was transiting from the Arabian Gulf toward the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates when a dozen IRGCN fast-attack craft swarmed the vessel in the middle of the strait, as the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command announced.