Maersk Tigris: A Warning Bell for Our Contested Maritime Century

The U.S. decision to escort U.S.-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz after Iranian patrol boats fired warning shots towards the merchant vessel Maersk Tigris and forced it into an Iranian port says much about the changing global maritime domain, and how it is increasingly competitive and contested by emerging and revanchist powers.

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Magnus Nordenman is deputy director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, in Washington, DC. Full Bio

This is hardly just an American headache. Earlier this week, Iranian patrol boats also fired at a Singapore-flagged cargo vessel transiting the Gulf, which further raised tensions. Far from being an aberration, recent events in the Gulf follow increasingly assertive behavior by Russia, China, and others in waters from the South China Sea to the Mediterranean and the Arctic. And while the U.S. Navy has announced that the escort mission in the Gulf is over for now, it is likely that it will have to do similar things in the coming years and decades. In the 21st century, competition between established and emerging powers will be increasingly felt and expressed at sea.

The Asia-Pacific region has been the primary, and natural, stage for a China seeking to assert itself in the maritime domain. The South China Sea dispute between China and i....

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