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US Navy bolsters presence in Gulf after Iran seizure

This March 9, 2015 US Navy photo shows the USS Farragut departing homeport at Naval Station Mayport in Florida to support the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike GroupUS warships protecting American-flagged ships in the Strait of Hormuz may extend assistance to other countries’ vessels, officials said Friday, after reports of Iranian forces harassing shipping. The expanded US naval presence is intended to signal to Iran that Washington is ready to safeguard shipping along the vital corridor, even at a moment of delicate diplomacy with Tehran over its nuclear program, experts said. American warships started “accompanying” US-flagged vessels in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday in response to two incidents in less than a week in which commercial vessels were coerced or harassed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. US Central Command, which oversees forces in the Middle East, said it was possible the assistance could be offered to other merchant ships sailing through the maritime chokepoint, a crucial route for the world’s oil.

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