U.S. fires warning shots at fast-approaching IRGC patrol boat in Gulf

by WorldTribune Staff, July 26, 2017

A U.S. coastal patrol ship in the Persian Gulf fired warning shots at an Iranian patrol boat that had come withing 150 yards of the U.S. vessel on July 25, U.S. defense officials said.

The Cyclone-class USS Thunderbolt (PC-12) fired “multiple warning shots” after an Iranian patrol boat approached a U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser, a Navy official told USNI News.

An Iranian ship approaches the USS Thunderbolt (PC-12) in the Persian Gulf on July. / U.S. Navy photo

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) navy’s Nassar-class patrol boat came within 150 yards of the Thunderbolt and one nautical mile of nearby cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), according to video of the encounter obtained by USNI News.

The officials said the IRGC vessel ignored repeated radio calls from the Thunderbolt, which also launched flares and sounded the danger signal – five short blasts – to warn the fast-approaching Iranian boat.

The incident, the latest in a series of encounters between U.S. and Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf, occurred as a formation of U.S. Navy warships was conducting an exercise in the Northern Persian Gulf.

“The Iranian vessel’s actions were not in accordance with the internationally recognized COLREGs ‘rules of the road’ nor internationally recognized maritime customs, creating a risk for collision,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.

Last month, an Iranian missile boat pointed a laser at a U.S. Marine helicopter while two Navy warships and a cargo ship were transiting out of the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, Israel’s Arutz Sheva reported. The U.S. helicopter automatically fired off flares toward the offending vessel.

In March, the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush confronted two sets of Iranian fast-attack boats that had approached a U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait.

Also in March, Iranian military vessels had a close encounter with a U.S. surveillance ship in the Strait of Hormuz. The incident was described by American officials as an “unsafe” and “unprofessional” maneuver by the Iranians.

The U.S. military said it has recorded approximately 60 unsafe interactions with Iranian ships in the Gulf since 2015, Fox News reported.

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