WASHINGTON – A US Navy ship fired warning shots near three Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boats in the Persian Gulf after the ships approached point blank and ignored repeated calls to withdraw, the navy announced on Tuesday.
It was the second tense meeting at sea in less than a month, after about a year without such incident, and it coincided with high-stakes negotiations between Iran and world powers over its nuclear program.
The three Iranian armed speedboats “quickly approached” a US Navy coastal patrol vessel, the Firebolt, and a US coastguard vessel, the Baranoff, Monday evening in international waters at around 8 p.m. local time. US Navy Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said in a statement.
The Iranian ships were operating at “an unnecessarily narrow distance with unknown intent” and at one point were within 68 meters of the two US ships, the statement said.
The crews of the two US ships “issued multiple warnings via deck-to-deck radio and megaphones”, but the Revolutionary Guard ships “continued to maneuver at close range,” the Fifth Fleet said. .
“The Firebolt crew then fired warning shots, and the IRGCN (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy) ships moved away at a safe distance from the US ships,” he said.
The three Iranian ships “did not give due consideration to the safety of other ships, as required by international law, because they came close to the United States. [ships]The statement said.
The Iranian UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The actions of Iranian ships “have increased the risk of miscalculations and / or collision,” said the Fifth Fleet, accusing the ships of failing to comply with international maritime regulations on collision prevention.
“The US naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner, while our commanders retain the inherent right to act in self-defense,” the statement said.
The Navy had previously acknowledged a similar and separate incident on April 2. In this case, a group of Iranian ships from the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps harassed two US Coast Guard vessels for more than three hours in the Persian Gulf, repeatedly crossing past the bow of the US ships at the end of the line. wearing.