WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sailed through the vital Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, U.S. officials told Reuters, amid simmering tensions between Iran and the United States.

Tensions in the Gulf have risen since attacks on oil tankers this summer, including off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, and a major assault on energy facilities in Saudi Arabia. Washington has blamed Iran, which has denied being behind the attacks on global energy infrastructure.

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LONDON/GIBRALTAR (Reuters) - Britain's Mediterranean territory Gibraltar decided on Thursday to free a seized Iranian oil tanker, but did not immediately indicate when or if the ship would set sail after the United States launched a new, last-minute legal bid to hold it.

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Marines embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer recently sailed through the Strait of Hormuz with an armored vehicle strapped to the flight deck, ready to fight off drones and Iranian gunboats.

A light armored vehicle (LAV) belonging to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit can be seen on the flight deck as an AH-1Z Viper lifts off in a recently-released Marine Corps photo, NPR's Phil Ewing first noted.

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Flight deck personnel stand on the flight deck on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) as it patrols the Arabian Gulf during a Strait of Hormuz transit February 14, 2012. (Reuters/Jumana El Heloueh)

The Navy wants to assure you that is not dispatching an entire fleet to the Strait of Hormuz a part of efforts to escort American commercial ships and has no plans on initiating a sequel to World War II's Battle of the Atlantic with its Iranian adversaries.

"We will escort our ships as they come along, but we won't be there in great numbers, Vice Adm. Michael Gilday testified on Wednesday during his Senate confirmation hearing to become chief of naval operations. "The idea is for the regional partners to bear the lion's share of the burden."

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The seizure of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the latest example of how tensions between the U.S. and Iran have spilled into one of the world's most strategic and vital waterways for oil. Since May, Iran has been accused of harassing and attacking oil tankers in the strait.

As the British government continues to investigate Friday's seizure, experts worry that it raises the potential of a military clash. However, they also say it offers a lens into Iran's strategy toward the U.S.

Here is a look at what's been happening and why the Strait of Hormuz matters.

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REUTERS/Christopher Pike/File Photo

DUBAI/PARIS (Reuters) - The United States is struggling to win its allies' support for an initiative to heighten surveillance of vital Middle East oil shipping lanes because of fears it will increase tension with Iran, six sources familiar with the matter said.

Washington proposed on July 9 stepping up efforts to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen where it blames Iran and its proxies for tanker attacks. Iran denies the charges.

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