Iranian Ships Come Close to US Naval Vessels Operating in Persian Gulf

Iranian Ships Come Close to US Naval Vessels Operating in Persian Gulf

Iranian Ships Come Close to US Naval Vessels Operating in Persian Gulf

The U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Army have been conducting joint interoperability operations in the North Arabian Gulf since late March.

The American ships were carrying out operations with Army Apache helicopters in the northern Gulf, the statement said.

"The IRGCN's unsafe and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, [and] were not in accordance with the internationally recognised Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea", the United States military's statement said.

On Tuesday, armed men in speedboats boarded and briefly held the Hong Kong-flagged tanker SC Taipei and its Chinese crew before releasing the vessel.

According to the Navy, the IRGCN vessels repeatedly conducted risky and harassing approaches of the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Firebolt (PC 10), USS Sirocco (PC 6), USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) and USCGC Maui (WPB 1304).

The American sailors gave multiple warnings to the Iranian ships through bridge-to-bridge radio, five short horn blasts and "long-range acoustic noise marker devices", the Navy said, receiving no response for an hour.

There was no mention of the incident in Iranian media.

The American vessels included the USS Paul Hamilton, a Navy destroyer; the USS Lewis B. Puller (above), a ship that serves as an afloat landing base; and the USCGC Maui. It is the first provocative exchange between the two nations since early March, when the USA and coalition aircraft struck Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia group locations in Iraq in retaliation for the deaths of two US troops in a rocket attack a day earlier.

Last June, an Iranian surface-to-air missile system also shot down a U.S. Navy surveillance drone that was hovering above the region. The attack escalated regional tensions and fueled a surge in oil prices.

The US Fifth Fleet released a statement on Wednesday. The group said it 'assessed no immediate threat to the free flow of shipping in the area'. Most recently, the U.S. has moved to block the International Monetary Fund from providing aid to Iran to respond to the pandemic. Tehran, however, sees the ever-expanding presence as provocative and threatening, and merely as a way for the USA to enforce its "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign, which seeks to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero. The Pentagon said the strike "was "aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans".

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