The Maersk Tigris game change: Iran’s big little maneuver in the Strait of Hormuz

Interesting times.

Superbad.  An Iranian speedboat and Kayvan patrol boat, the new law in the SOH. (Image: Fars via Uskowi on Iran)
Superbad. An Iranian speedboat and Kayvan patrol boat, the new law in the SOH. (Image: Fars via Uskowi on Iran)

The game of international power dynamics has just shifted in a major way.  It will take a little time for the consequences to be visible to the public eye.  But I don’t think it will take that much time.  We’re talking months, at most, if not weeks.  Iran is getting no pushback from the “international community,” and is moving quickly now.

Two points to take this forward on.  First, the Maersk Tigris, the Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship detained by Iran on Tuesday, is still being held by Iran.  The situation remains unresolved.

Second, the U.S. Navy will begin accompanying U.S.-flagged commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz (SOH).  This is not the robust use of force it may seem to be, nor is it a repeat of the tanker-escort operation (Earnest Will)* in 1987-88, during the Iran-Iraq war.  It’s a tacit surrender, in fact. Continue reading “The Maersk Tigris game change: Iran’s big little maneuver in the Strait of Hormuz”

China: Ignoring UNCLOS, ordering a U.S. Navy cruiser to stop

Post-Pax blues.

If you were wondering whether it’s bad that the Chinese navy maneuvered aggressively near a U.S. Navy ship last week, ordering the ship to stop and then driving a Chinese ship right in front of it, dangerously close, the answer is yes.  It’s bad – bad from two standpoints: naval professionalism, and China’s posture in the South China Sea.  We’ll look at both here.

Briefly, the backstory is that China’s new aircraft carrier, the former-Soviet carrier refitted by China and named the Liaoning, transited in November from a northern port to the South China Sea for her first operations in southerly waters.  In late November, Liaoning got underway with an escort of two destroyers and two frigates to conduct operations in the South China Sea.

These are Liaoning’s first naval activities outside of the Yellow Sea and East China Sea, Continue reading “China: Ignoring UNCLOS, ordering a U.S. Navy cruiser to stop”