The US Navy (USN) said it has sent a second guided-missile destroyer, USS Mason (DDG 87), to the Gulf of Oman "to provide assistance" in the aftermath of tanker attacks there, while the US also disavows any desire to start a conflict in the region.
Tankers M/V Front Altair and M/V Kokuka Courageous suffered what the USN has identified as mine attacks while operating in international waters of the Gulf of Oman.
"(Guided-missile destroyer) USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) was operating in the vicinity and provided immediate assistance to the M/V Kokuka Courageous ," US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Earl Brown said in a 13 June statement. "Twenty-one mariners from the M/V Kokuka Courageous , who abandoned ship, are currently aboard USS Bainbridge ," Lt Col Brown said.
"USS Bainbridge remains in close contact with the M/V Kokuka Courageous and is the on-scene US command authority," he said. "No interference with USS Bainbridge , or its mission, will be tolerated."
Mason is en route to help with operations.
"We have no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East," Lt Col Brown said. "We will defend our interests, but a war with Iran is not in our strategic interest, nor in the best interest of the international community."
Still, he noted, "The US and our partners in the region will take all necessary measures to defend ourselves and our interests. [The recent] attacks are a clear threat to international freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce. The US and the international community stand ready to defend our interests, including freedom of navigation. This is a threat to maritime shipping and international commerce. The US and our regional partners are assisting in the response to attacks."
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