Western navies are planning a show of force off the coast of Iran next week with a large military exercise involving American, British and French forces, the Middle East Eye website reported Friday.
Exercise “Unified Trident,” which will reportedly involve a simulation of a confrontation with Iran, is intended to “enhance mutual capabilities, improve tactical proficiency and strengthen partnerships in ensuring the free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation,” according to US Naval Forces Central Command.
It will be held near the coast of Bahrain by Combined Task Force 50, and will involve aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates from the three nations.
Iran has had numerous confrontations recently with US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and around the Strait of Hormuz, with the most notable case being Iran’s capture of 10 US Navy sailors last January who had drifted into Iranian waters after experiencing mechanical problems.
Earlier this month a US Navy vessel fired three warning shots at a group of Iranian ships that approached the destroyer at high speed in the strait.
US defense officials said the USS Mahan called on the four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps ships to slow down, but they continued to approach at high speed. This led the ship to fire flares and a helicopter dropped a “smoke float” signaling device, according to Reuters.
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Indian Sea through which a fifth of the world’s oil supply passes.
Iran has threatened to close off the strait in the past over tensions with the US, a move that would lead to turmoil in global oil markets.
Agencies contributed to this report.