by WorldTribune Staff, August 26, 2016
A U.S. Cyclone class patrol ship on Aug. 25 fired warning shots after Iranian fast-attack boats “harassed” the American vessel in waters north of the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy said.
The USS Squall “resorted to firing three warning shots from their 50-caliber gun, which caused the Iranian vessel to turn away,” Navy spokesman Bill Urban said.
The warning shots at the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) boats followed another incident on Aug. 23 in which the U.S. military reported four IRGC vessels sailed near the guided missile destroyer USS Nitze near the Strait of Hormuz.
U.S. Navy video of the Nitze incident showed an American sailor firing flares and sounding the warship’s horn as the Iranian boats approached. A U.S. official told Fox News the Nitze was ultimately forced to change its course to avoid the Iranian ships, despite coming close to offshore oil rigs.
“At this point, it’s not clear what the intentions of the Iranian ships were, but the behavior is not acceptable, given that this U.S. ship was in international waters,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Iran responded by saying the IRGC vessels had only been carrying out their “regular duties” which include monitoring foreign ships near Iranian waters.
“If an American ship enters Iran’s maritime region, it will definitely get a warning,” ISNA news agency quoted Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan as saying on Aug. 25. “We will monitor them and, if they violate our waters, we will confront them.”
Other close calls this week involved the USS Tempest and USS Stout, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters on Aug. 25.