A US Navy ship fired warning shots after three armed Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) fast-attack boats came “unnecessarily close” to it and another American ship in the Persian Gulf on Monday evening, 5th Fleet said Tuesday.
At around 8 pm on Monday, the IRGCN speed boats closed rapidly with the US Navy coastal patrol ship USS Firebolt and the US Coast Guard patrol boat USCGC Baranoff, which were conducting maritime security operations in international waters.
The US Navy said in a statement that the Iranian vessels closed to within 68 yards with “unknown intent.”
The American vessels issued warnings over the radio to the IRGCN boats, but there was no change in behavior. The US Navy ship then fired warning shots. The IRGCN fast-attack vessels moved away after the shots were fired.
The US Navy said in a statement that US forces maintained communication with the IRGCN vessels and “executed pre-planned responses to reduce the risk of miscalculation, avoid a collision, and to de-escalate the situation.”
The service said that the “IRGCN’s actions increased the risk of miscalculation and/or collision,” adding that while the US “is not an aggressor,” US forces are trained “to conduct efffective defensive measures when necessary.”
News of this latest incident follows reports of another incident earlier this month involving IRGCN vessels and two US Coast Guard ships.
Three Iranian IRGCN fast-attack boats and one larger support vessel, Harth 55, swarmed US Coast Guard patrol boats Wrangell and Monomoy during maritime security operations in international waters on April 2.
The US Navy said that the Harth 55 “repeatedly crossed the bows of the US vessels at an unnecessarily close range,” at one point coming within 70 yards of the US ships.
One “unsafe and unprofessional” approach, as the Navy described it, was captured on video.
The Iranian vessels responded to bridge-to-bridge communications but did not alter their behavior. They harassed the US ships for around three hours before finally withdrawing.
That incident was the first time since April 15, 2020 that US forces had an unpleasant encounter with the IRGCN at sea.
During that interaction, which lasted about an hour, 11 IRGC boats “conducted dangerous and harassing approaches” toward US Navy and Coast Guard ships conducting operations in international waters. At one point, one of the Iranian boats came within 10 yards of one of the Coast Guard cutters.
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