"Small, Iranian fast boats made some aggressive maneuvers against our
vessels and indicated some hostile intent," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman
said on Monday. "This required our vessels to issue warnings and conduct
some evasive maneuvers. The U.S. Navy vessels were prepared to take
appropriate actions, but there was no engagement of the vessels."
Iran dismissed the reported confrontation. Iranian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini said the Iranian Navy appeared to have
misidentified the U.S. ships — two U.S. Navy destroyers and one frigate.
"That is something normal that takes place every now and then for each
party, and it is settled after identification of the two parties," Hosseini
Hours later, the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet said two F/A-18 fighter-jets
crashed in the Gulf on Monday. The Fifth Fleet, based in Manama and
responsible for patrols in the region, said there were no fatalities.
"Teams from USS Harry S. Truman [CVN 75] rescued all three aviators
after two F/A-18 Super Hornets crashed during operations in the Arabian Gulf
Jan. 7,"the Fifth Fleet said. "The cause of the accident is under
Iran was not cited as a possible cause for the air crash. Over the last
year, Iran acquired advanced air defense systems from Russia.
U.S. Fifth Fleet commander Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, who also commands
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said five IRGC high-speed boats arrived
from the north and confronted the U.S. ships. Cosgriff said the IRGC naval
force split and headed toward both sides of the U.S. formation, identified
as the USS Port Royal, USS Hopper and USS Ingraham.
"The five boats approached the U.S. formation on its starboard bow in
international waters slightly inside the Gulf from the apex of the strait,"
Cosgriff said. "The groups maneuvered aggressively in the direction of the
At one point, Cosgriff said, the IRGC boats came within 500 meters of
the U.S. ships. Two of the Iranian FACs dropped white box-like objects in
the path of the USS Ingraham.
"The [U.S.] ships received a radio call that was threatening to our
ships to the effect that they were closing our ships and that the U.S. ships
would explode," Cosgriff said.
Officials said the U.S. Navy has sought to maintain two carrier strike
groups in the Gulf. They said the navy has been on alert for an attack by
IRGC, which took over Gulf operations from the Iranian Navy in June 2007.
"This is reckless and dangerous behavior on the part of the Iranian
vessels, and it should cease immediately," Whitman said.