The U.S. Navy has ended its week-old mission to accompany American- and British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.

U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren said the mission's authorization "expired" at midnight in the Persian Gulf, or about 5 p.m. Tuesday in Washington.

The mission began last week after Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps naval vessels reportedly fired warning shots near a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship and detained the ship and its crew.

Iran claims it intervened with the Maersk Tigris because the Maersk shipping line owes it money awarded in a lawsuit.

The Maersk Tigris remains anchored near the Iranian shore, Warren said.

The Strait of Hormuz, between the shores of Iran and the United Arab Emirates, is one of the world's most strategically important choke points. About 20 percent of the world's oil supply travels through the strait.

The U.S. Navy was not sending warships to accompany the U.S. and British-flagged ships. Rather, they used U.S. Military Sealift Command ships or contract ships.

But military officials said U.S. Navy warships are positioned nearby and are ready to respond if needed.

Andrew Tilghman is the executive editor for Military Times. He is a former Military Times Pentagon reporter and served as a Middle East correspondent for the Stars and Stripes. Before covering the military, he worked as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle in Texas, the Albany Times Union in New York and The Associated Press in Milwaukee.

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