Just the Facts

Five Facts on What is Happening in The Strait of Hormuz

By No Labels
August 15, 2019 | Blog

Tensions have been rising between Iran and the West since President Trump pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal last year leading to conflict in the Strait of Hormuz that if not resolved could jeopardize the world oil supply. The strait – 90 nautical miles long, 52 to 21 miles wide, separating Iran on the north from the United Arab Emirates on the south – provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open seas. Here are the facts.

21 percent of the world’s oil shipments travel through the Strait of Hormuz each day.

The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important oil choke point. Shipping costs and world energy prices are likely to increase if there is a delay or stoppage of oil through a major choke point. Oil pipelines from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the only alternative oil export routes from the Persian Gulf without shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.[1]

Iran shot down a U.S. drone aircraft on June 20. 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and U.S. officials both confirmed that a U.S. drone was shot down by Iran on June 20. However, the two countries do not agree on the coordinates where the drone was shot down. Iran claimed that the U.S. drone intruded Iranian airspace. The U.S. claimed that the aircraft did not enter Iranian airspace and that it was shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.[2]

On July 18 the USS Boxer used a new generation of warfare to jam an Iranian drone. 

President Trump announced on July 18 that the USS Boxer, a U.S. naval ship, took defensive action against an Iranian drone by jamming it over the Strait of Hormuz, which caused it to crash. The equipment used to jam the drone is known as a Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (MRZR LMADIS). The use of the MRZR LMADIS was the first known kill by the U.S. with this technology. The technology detects a threat and then jams the drone’s signals.[3]

Iran boarded two British oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19. 

The Stena Impero, a British-flagged oil tanker, was seized in the Strait of Hormuz by Iranian forces in retaliation for the previous British seizure of the Iranian supertanker, Grace I. Mesdar, a British managed oil tanker, was targeted by Iranian forces on the same night as the Stena Impero’s seizure. The Mesdar was boarded by Iranian personnel but was only issued a warning and freed.[4]

Gibraltar released the Iranian supertanker, Grace I, on Thursday, August 15. 

Grace I, a supertanker carrying oil from Iran to Syria, was seized off the coast of Gibraltar, a British territory, on July 4 for violating European Union and U.S. sanctions. The UK and Iran made a deal for the release of Grace I this week after Iran agreed that the oil on Grace I would not be shipped to Syria. The United States Department of Justice applied to extend the seizure of Grace I. The Supreme Court in the British Territory of Gibraltar approved the release of Grace I on Thursday, despite the U.S. attempt to halt the release.[5]

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