Iran General NewsUS Navy steps up vigilance after Britain-Iran standoff

US Navy steps up vigilance after Britain-Iran standoff

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AFP: The US Navy said Tuesday it had stepped up vigilance following Iran’s recent seizure of 15 British marines and sailors for allegedly entering Iranian waters. WASHINGTON, April 3, 2007 (AFP) – The US Navy said Tuesday it had stepped up vigilance following Iran’s recent seizure of 15 British marines and sailors for allegedly entering Iranian waters.

“We need to be mindful of not just protecting our units but ensure that our people are protected when they are off their ship and then, we have procedures in place to ensure that something like that doesn’t occur to American sailors,” said the chief of naval operations, Admiral Michael Mullen.

“I am confident that we got those in place but I am mindful, watching what occurred (to the British sailors), that we need to be very vigilant with respect to that,” he said, when answering a question at a Washington forum.

The 14 British men and one woman were seized in the northern Gulf on March 23 and accused of trespassing in Iranian waters.

Britain insists they were in Iraqi waters.

Mullen said the “main message” in the United States having two aircraft carrier battle groups at present in the Persian Gulf “is to reassure our friends” from a “position of great strength.”

US President George W. Bush ordered a second US aircraft carrier battle group to the Gulf in January and announced the deployment of a Patriot missile defense battalion to the region to protect allies against potential missile strikes.

Bush vowed at the time that US forces would “seek out and destroy” any networks funneling weapons or fighters from Syria or Iran into Iraq.

A senior US military official had said that the United States planned to keep two aircraft carrier battle groups in the Gulf for months — the first such deployment since the first year of the Iraq war.

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