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The STRAIT OF HORMUZ (/hɔːrˈmuːz/ Persian : تنگه هرمز‎‎ Tange-ye Hormoz listen (help ·info ) is a strait between the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
and the Gulf of Oman . It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
to the open ocean and is one of the world's most strategically important choke points . On the north coast lies Iran
Iran
, and on the south coast the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
and Musandam , an exclave of Oman
Oman
. At its narrowest, the strait has a width of 29 nautical miles (54 km).

About 20% of the world's petroleum (about 35% of the petroleum traded by sea) passes through the strait, making it a highly important strategic location for international trade.

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology * 2 Navigation * 3 Traffic statistics

* 4 Events

* 4.1 Operation Praying Mantis
Operation Praying Mantis
* 4.2 Downing of Iran
Iran
Air 655 * 4.3 Collision between USS Newport News and tanker Mogamigawa

* 4.4 Tensions in 2008

* 4.4.1 2008 US-Iranian naval dispute * 4.4.2 Iranian defence policy * 4.4.3 Naval activity in 2008

* 4.5 Collision between USS Hartford and USS New Orleans * 4.6 U.S. Iran
Iran
tensions in 2011–2012 * 4.7 2015 seizure of MV Maersk Tigris

* 5 Ability of Iran
Iran
to hinder shipping * 6 Alternative shipping routes * 7 See also * 8 Notes * 9 References * 10 Further reading * 11 External links

ETYMOLOGY

The opening to the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
was described, but not given a name, in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
, a 1st-century mariner's guide:

"At the upper end of these Calaei islands is a range of mountains called Calon, and there follows not far beyond, the mouth of the Persian Gulf, where there is much diving for the pearl-mussel. To the left of the straits are great mountains called Asabon and to the right there rises in full view another round and high mountain called Semiramis; between them the passage across the strait is about six hundred stadia; beyond which that very great and broad sea, the Persian Gulf, reaches far into the interior. At the upper end of this gulf there is a market-town designated by law called Apologus, situated near Charaex Spasini and the River Euphrates." — Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Chapter 35

In the 10th–17th centuries AD, the Kingdom of Ormus
Ormus
, which seems to have given the strait its name, was located here. Scholars, historians and linguists derive the name "Ormuz" from the local Persian word هورمغ Hur-mogh meaning date palm. In the local dialects of Hurmoz and Minab this strait is still called Hurmogh and has the aforementioned meaning. The resemblance of this word with the name of the Persian god هرمز Hormoz (a variant of Ahura Mazda ) has resulted in the popular belief that these words are related.

NAVIGATION

To reduce the risk of collision, ships moving through the Strait follow a Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS): inbound ships use one lane, outbound ships another, each lane being two miles wide. The lanes are separated by a two-mile-wide "median".

To traverse the Strait, ships pass through the territorial waters of Iran
Iran
and Oman
Oman
under the transit passage provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea . Although not all countries have ratified the convention, most countries, including the U.S., accept these customary navigation rules as codified in the Convention.

In April 1959 when Iran
Iran
attempted to alter the legal status of the strait by expanding its territorial sea to 12-nautical-mile (22 km) and declaring that it would recognize only transit by Innocent passage through the newly expanded area. In July 1972, Oman
Oman
expanded its territorial sea to 12 nm by decree. Thus, by mid-1972, the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz was completely “closed” by the combined territorial waters of Iran
Iran
and Oman.During the 1970s, neither Iran
Iran
or Oman
Oman
attempted to impede the passage of warships through the strait, but in the 1980s, both countries asserted claims that were different with customary (old) law. Upon ratifying UNCLOS in August 1989, Oman
Oman
submitted declarations confirming its 1981 royal decree that only innocent passage is permitted through its territorial sea. The declarations further asserted that prior permission was required before foreign warships could pass through Omani territorial waters. Upon signing the convention in December 1982, Iran
Iran
entered a declaration stating “that only states parties to the Law of the Sea Convention shall be entitled to benefit from the contractual rights created therein,” including “the right of transit passage through straits used for international navigation.”In May 1993, Iran
Iran
enacted a comprehensive law on maritime areas, several provisions of which conflict with UNCLOS provisions, including a requirement that warships, submarines, and nuclear-powered ships obtain permission before exercising innocent passage through Iran’s territorial waters.The United States does not recognize any of the excessive claims by Oman
Oman
and Iran
Iran
and has contested each of them.

Oman
Oman
has a radar site Link Quality Indicator (LQI) to monitor the TSS in the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz. This site is on a small island on the peak of Musandam Peninsula .

TRAFFIC STATISTICS

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration
Energy Information Administration
, in 2011, an average of 14 tankers per day passed out of the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
through the Strait
Strait
carrying 17 million barrels (2,700,000 m3) of crude oil. This was said to represent 35% of the world's seaborne oil shipments and 20% of oil traded worldwide. The report stated that more than 85% of these crude oil exports went to Asian markets, with Japan, India, South Korea and China the largest destinations.

A 2007 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies also stated that 17 million barrels passed out of the Persian Gulf daily, but that oil flows through the Strait
Strait
accounted for roughly 40% of all world-traded oil.

EVENTS

OPERATION PRAYING MANTIS

Main article: Operation Praying Mantis
Operation Praying Mantis

On 18 April 1988, the U.S. Navy waged a one-day battle against Iranian forces in and around the strait. The battle, dubbed Operation Praying Mantis by the U.S., was launched in retaliation for the USS Samuel B. Roberts striking a mine laid in the channel by Iran
Iran
on 14 April. U.S. forces sank one frigate , one gunboat , and up to six armed speedboats, as well as seriously damaging a second frigate.

DOWNING OF IRAN AIR 655

Main article: Iran
Iran
Air Flight 655

On 3 July 1988, 290 people were killed when an Iran
Iran
Air Airbus A300 was shot down over the strait by the United States Navy
United States Navy
guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes when it was identified as a jet fighter. Flight 655 had taken off from a joint Iranian Military/Civilian airfield and the IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) signals being received had two ID codes, one for a civilian aircraft and one for a fighter. Leading some experts to speculate that at least one and possibly more fighter aircraft were hiding in flight 655's "radar shadow". Such a tactic is quite effective against older radar systems but much less so against the Spy 1 radar which CG-49 was equipped with. The shoot down is still clouded in misinformation and controversy even decades later.

COLLISION BETWEEN USS NEWPORT NEWS AND TANKER MOGAMIGAWA

On 8 January 2007, the nuclear submarine USS Newport News , traveling submerged, struck MV Mogamigawa , a 300,000-ton Japanese-flagged very large crude tanker , south of the strait. There were no injuries, and no oil leaked from the tanker.

TENSIONS IN 2008

2008 US-Iranian Naval Dispute

Main article: 2008 US-Iranian naval dispute

A series of naval stand-offs between Iranian speedboats and U.S. warships in the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz occurred in December 2007 and January 2008. U.S. officials accused Iran
Iran
of harassing and provoking their naval vessels, but Iranian officials denied the allegations. On 14 January 2008, U.S. Navy officials appeared to contradict the Pentagon version of the 16th of January event, in which the Pentagon had reported that U.S. vessels had almost fired on approaching Iranian boats. The Navy's regional commander, Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, said the Iranians had "neither anti-ship missiles nor torpedoes" and he "wouldn't characterize the posture of the US 5th Fleet as afraid of these small boats".

Iranian Defence Policy

On 29 June 2008, the commander of Iran\'s Revolutionary Guard , Mohammad Ali Jafari , said that if either Israel
Israel
or the United States attacked Iran, it would seal off the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz to wreak havoc in the oil markets. This followed more ambiguous threats from Iran's oil minister and other government officials that an attack on Iran would result in turmoil in the world's oil supply.

Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, commander of the U.S. 5th Fleet stationed in Bahrain across the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
from Iran, warned that such Iranian action by would be considered an act of war, and the U.S. would not allow Iran
Iran
to hold hostage nearly a third of the world's oil supply.

On 8 July 2008, Ali Shirazi, a mid-level clerical aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei , was quoted by the student news agency ISNA as telling the Revolutionary Guards, "The Zionist regime is pressuring White House officials to attack Iran. If they commit such a stupidity, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
and U.S. shipping in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
will be Iran's first targets and they will be burned."

Naval Activity In 2008

In the last week of July 2008, in the Operation Brimstone, dozens of U.S. and foreign naval ships came to undergo joint exercises for possible military activity in the shallow waters off the coast of Iran.

As of 11 August 2008, more than 40 U.S. and allied ships reportedly were en route to the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz. One U.S. carrier battle group from Japan would complement the two which are already in the Persian Gulf, for a total of five battle groups, not including the submarines.

COLLISION BETWEEN USS HARTFORD AND USS NEW ORLEANS

Main article: USS Hartford and USS New Orleans collision

Wikinews has related news: TWO US NAVY VESSELS COLLIDE IN THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ; 15 LIGHTLY INJURED

On 20 March 2009, United States Navy
United States Navy
Los Angeles-class submarine USS Hartford collided with the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans in the strait. The collision, which slightly injured 15 sailors aboard the Hartford, ruptured a fuel tank aboard the New Orleans, spilling 25,000 US gallons (95 m3) of marine diesel fuel.

U.S. IRAN TENSIONS IN 2011–2012

Main article: 2011–12 Strait
Strait
of Hormuz dispute

On 27 December 2011, Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi threatened to cut off oil supply from the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz should economic sanctions limit, or cut off, Iranian oil exports. A U.S. Fifth Fleet spokeswoman said in response that the Fleet was "always ready to counter malevolent actions", whilst Admiral Habibollah Sayyari of the Iranian navy claimed that cutting off oil shipments would be "easy". Despite an initial 2% rise in oil prices, oil markets ultimately did not react significantly to the Iranian threat, with oil analyst Thorbjoern Bak Jensen of Global Risk Management concluding that "they cannot stop the flow for a longer period due to the amount of U.S. hardware in the area". The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter transits the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz in May 2012. Porter is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet

On 3 January 2012, Iran
Iran
threatened to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier back into the Persian Gulf. Iranian Army chief Ataollah Salehi said the United States had moved an aircraft carrier out of the Gulf because of Iran's naval exercises, and Iran would take action if the ship returned. " Iran
Iran
will not repeat its warning...the enemy's carrier has been moved to the Gulf of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf", he said.

The U.S. Navy spokesman Commander Bill Speaks quickly responded that deployment of U.S. military assets would continue as has been the custom stating: "The U.S. Navy operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce."

While earlier statements from Iran
Iran
had little effect on global oil markets, coupled with the new sanctions, these comments from Iran
Iran
are driving crude futures higher, up over 4%. Pressure on prices reflect a combination of uncertainty driven further by China's recent response – reducing oil January 2012 purchases from Iran
Iran
by 50% compared to those made in 2011.

The U.S. led sanctions may be "beginning to bite" as Iranian currency has recently lost some 12% of its value. Further pressure on Iranian currency was added by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé who was quoted as calling for more "strict sanctions" and urged EU countries to follow the US in freezing Iranian central bank assets and imposing an embargo on oil exports.

On 7 January 2012, the British government announced that it would be sending the Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring to the Persian Gulf. Daring, which is the lead ship of her class is one of the "most advanced warships" in the world, and will undertake its first mission in the Persian Gulf. The British Government however have said that this move has been long-planned, as Daring will replace another Armilla patrol frigate.

On 9 January 2012, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi denied that Iran
Iran
had ever claimed that it would close the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz, saying that "the Islamic Republic of Iran
Iran
is the most important provider of security in the strait... if one threatens the security of the Persian Gulf, then all are threatened."

The Iranian Foreign Ministry confirmed on 16 January 2012 that it has received a letter from the United States concerning the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz, "via three different channels." Authorities were considering whether to reply, although the contents of the letter were not divulged. The United States had previously announced its intention to warn Iran
Iran
that closing the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz is a "red line" that would provoke an American response. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey , the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff
, said this past weekend that the United States would "take action and re-open the strait,” which could be accomplished only by military means, including minesweepers, warship escorts and potentially airstrikes. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told troops in Texas
Texas
that the United States would not tolerate Iran's closing of the strait. Nevertheless, Iran
Iran
continued to discuss the impact of shutting the Strait
Strait
on world oil markets, saying that any disruption of supply would cause a shock to markets that "no country" could manage.

By 23 January, a flotilla had been established by countries opposing Iran's threats to close the Hormuz Strait. These ships operated in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
and Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
off the coast of Iran. The flotilla included three American aircraft carriers (the USS Carl Vinson , the USS Enterprise and USS Abraham Lincoln ) and three destroyers (USS Momsen , USS Sterett , USS Halsey ), seven British warships, including the destroyer HMS Daring and a number of Type 23 frigates (HMS Westminster , HMS Argyll , HMS Somerset and HMS St Albans ), and a French warship, the frigate La Motte-Picquet .

On 24 January, tensions rose further after the European Union
European Union
imposed sanctions on Iranian oil. A senior member of Iran's parliament said that the Islamic Republic would close the entry point to the Gulf if new sanctions block its oil exports. "If any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz will definitely be closed," Mohammad Kossari , deputy head of parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee, told the semi-official Fars News Agency
Fars News Agency
.

2015 SEIZURE OF MV MAERSK TIGRIS

See also: Maersk § Business with Iran
Iran

On April 28, 2015, IRGCN patrol boats contacted the Marshall Islands -flagged container ship Maersk Tigris , which was westbound through the strait, and directed the ship to proceed further into Iranian territorial waters, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department. When the ship's master declined, one of the Iranian craft fired shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris. The master complied and proceeded into Iranian waters near Larak Island. The U.S. Navy sent aircraft and a destroyer, USS Farragut , to monitor the situation.

Maersk says they have agreed to pay an Iranian company $163,000 over a dispute about 10 container boxes transported to Dubai in 2005. The court ruling allegedly ordered a fine of $3.6 million.

ABILITY OF IRAN TO HINDER SHIPPING

See also: Military of Iran
Iran

Millennium Challenge 2002 was a major war game exercise conducted by the United States armed forces in 2002. According to a 2012 article in The Christian Science Monitor, it simulated an attempt by Iran
Iran
to close the strait. The assumptions and results were controversial.

A 2008 article in International Security contended that Iran
Iran
could seal off or impede traffic in the Strait
Strait
for a month, and an attempt by the U.S. to reopen it would be likely to escalate the conflict. In a later issue, however, the journal published a response which questioned some key assumptions and suggested a much shorter timeline for re-opening.

In December 2011, Iran's navy began a ten-day exercise in international waters along the strait. The Iranian Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, stated that the strait would not be closed during the exercise; Iranian forces could easily accomplish that but such a decision must be made at a political level.

Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, was quoted in a December 2011 Reuters
Reuters
article: "Efforts to increase tension in that part of the world are unhelpful and counter-productive. For our part, we are comfortable that we have in the region sufficient capabilities to honor our commitments to our friends and partners, as well as the international community." In the same article, Suzanne Maloney, an Iran
Iran
expert at the Brookings Institution, said, "The expectation is that the U.S. military could address any Iranian threat relatively quickly."

General Martin Dempsey , Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in January 2012 that Iran
Iran
"has invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz." He also stated, "We've invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that."

ALTERNATIVE SHIPPING ROUTES

In June 2012, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
reopened the Iraq
Iraq
Pipeline through Saudi Arabia (IPSA), which was confiscated from Iraq
Iraq
in 2001 and travels from Iraq
Iraq
across Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
to a Red Sea
Red Sea
port. It will have a capacity of 1.65 million barrels per day.

In July 2012, the UAE
UAE
began using a new pipeline from the Habshan fields in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi
to the Fujairah oil terminal on the Gulf of Oman , effectively bypassing the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz. It was constructed by China and will have a maximum capacity of around 2 million barrels per day, over three-fourths of the UAE's 2012 production rate. The UAE
UAE
is also increasing Fujairah's storage and off-loading capacities.

In a July 2012 Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy
article, Gal Luft compared Iran
Iran
and the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz to the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
and the Dardanelles
Dardanelles
, a choke point for shipments of Russian grain a century ago. He indicated that tensions involving the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz are leading those currently dependent on shipments from the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
to find alternative shipping capabilities. He stated that Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
was considering building new pipelines to Oman
Oman
and Yemen
Yemen
, and that Iraq
Iraq
might revive the disused Iraq- Syria
Syria
pipeline to ship crude to the Mediterranean. Luft stated that reducing Hormuz traffic "presents the West with a new opportunity to augment its current Iran
Iran
containment strategy."

SEE ALSO

* Abu Musa island * Bandar Lengeh * Hormozgān Province * Kingdom of Hormuz

NOTES

* ^ A B C D Alejandra Roman & Administration. " Strait
Strait
of Hormuz". The Encyclopedia of Earth. Retrieved 2015-06-02. * ^ Municipality of Minab, (in Persian). Retrieved 30 December 2011. * ^ "Chronological lists of ratifications of, accessions and successions to the Convention and the related Agreements as at 26 October 2007". Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. UN. * ^ U.S. President
U.S. President
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
(10 March 1983). "Presidential Proclamation 5030" (PDF). United States Department of State
United States Department of State
. Retrieved 21 January 2008. * ^ A B C D Groves, Steven (2011-08-24). "Accession to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Is Unnecessary to Secure U.S. Navigational Rights and Freedoms". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2017-04-09. * ^ Anthony H. Cordesman (26 March 2007). "Iran, Oil, and the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz" (PDF). Center for Strategic and International Studies. * ^ Dorsey, Jack (10 January 2007). "Navy says speed of tanker sucked submarine up to surface". The Virginian Pilot. * ^ Isenberg, David (10 January 2008). "A game of chicken in the, Persian Gulf". Asia Times Online . Retrieved 8 January 2012. * ^ "U.S. Navy Commander Warns Iran: Don\'t Try Closing Gulf Oil Passageway". Fox News. 2 July 2008. * ^ " Iran
Iran
to "hit Tel Aviv, U.S. ships" if attacked". Yahoo News. 8 July 2008. Archived from the original on 16 July 2008. * ^ "JTFEX 08-4 "Operation Brimstone" Flexes Allied Force Training". US Navy. 15 July 2008. * ^ "Three major US naval strike forces due this week in Persian Gulf". Debkafile. 11 August 2008. * ^ "U.S. Navy vessels in Bahrain for evaluation after collision". CNN. 20 March 2009. Retrieved 8 January 2012. * ^ "Oil jumps over 2% as Iran
Iran
threatens supplies". CNN. 27 December 2011. * ^ "US warns Iran
Iran
over threat to block oil route". BBC News
BBC News
. 28 December 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. * ^ Gibbons, Robert (28 December 2011). "Oil falls on dollar\'s rise, Wall Street pullback". Reuters
Reuters
. Retrieved 8 January 2012. * ^ Hafezi, Parisa (3 January 2012). " Iran
Iran
threatens U.S. Navy as sanctions hit economy". Reuters
Reuters
. Retrieved 8 January 2012. * ^ " Iran
Iran
nuclear crisis: Sanctions \'beginning to bite\'". BBC News . 3 January 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2012. * ^ "State Department: Iran
Iran
is feeling the pressure - Yahoo! News". Ca.news.yahoo.com. 3 January 2012. Archived from the original on 9 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. * ^ Harding, Thomas (6 January 2012). "Royal Navy sends its mightiest ship to take on the Iranian show of force in the Gulf". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 8 January 2012. * ^ "HMS Daring to head for the Gulf". Press Association
Press Association
. 7 January 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2012. * ^ " Iran
Iran
and the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz". Tabeer. Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. * ^ "News Headlines". Cnbc.com. 16 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. * ^ Bumiller, Elisabeth; Schmitt, Eric; Shanker, Thom (12 January 2012). "U.S. Warns Top Iran
Iran
Leader Not to Shut Strait
Strait
of Hormuz". The New York Times. * ^ Smith, Grant (16 January 2012). "Oil Climbs From Four-Week Low as Iran
Iran
Warns of Hormuz Supply Disruption". Bloomberg. * ^ "Iran: Flotilla
Flotilla
Of Warships Sent Through Strait
Strait
of Hormuz Heightens Tensions". Huffington Post. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. * ^ "Iran: EU oil sanctions \'unfair\' and \'doomed to fail\'". BBC. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. * ^ Blair, David (23 January 2012). " Iran
Iran
threatens to close Strait of Hormuz over EU oil sanctions". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 January 2012. * ^ " Iran
Iran
seizes commercial ship, U.S. forces respond". CNN. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015. * ^ " Maersk insists on release of ship and crew seized by Iran". Reuters. 30 Apr 2015. * ^ Peterson, Scott (26 January 2012). "How Iran
Iran
could beat up on America\'s superior military". www.csmonitor.com. * ^ Closing Time: Assessing the Iranian Threat to the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz, by Caitlin Talmadge, International Security , Harvard Kennedy School * ^ "Costs and Difficulties of Blocking the Strait
Strait
of Hormuz", International Security, Winter 2008/2009 * ^ "Iranian navy begins exercise in waters near strategic oil route". China Daily
China Daily
. 26 December 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. * ^ "Shutting Off Gulf \'