‘Dangerous & harassing’? WATCH Iranian boats buzz US Navy vessels ‘patrolling’ Persian Gulf
The United States Navy has accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps of threatening and “unsafe” actions, reporting that IRGC vessels approached American warships conducting “maritime security” operations in the Persian Gulf.
A total of 11 Iranian vessels buzzed a number of American ships on Wednesday, the US Navy said in a statement, calling the maneuvers “harassing… dangerous and provocative.” The US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, later published footage of the encounter, showing several smaller IRGC craft in close range of a US ship.
“Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels conducted unsafe and unprofessional actions against US military ships by crossing the ships’ bows and sterns at close range while operating in international waters of the North Arabian Gulf,” the Fifth Fleet said, noting that the US warships there were merely “conducting joint interoperability operations in support of maritime security.”
The six US Navy vessels were carrying out “integration operations” with army aircraft in international waters at the time of the incident, the military said, adding that at one point, Iranian ships came within 10 yards of a US Coast Guard cutter. After about an hour, following several warnings over bridge-to-bridge radio, blasts from the ships’ horns and use of a long range acoustic noise device, the Iranian ships left.
(3/3) Initial assessments indicate #IRGCN vessels' closest points ofapproach were 50 yards from #USSLewisBPuller & 10 yards from @USCG#Maui. There were no injuries during the interaction.https://t.co/44iPiTuS0Ipic.twitter.com/JAlk5N1i3P— U.S. 5th Fleet (@US5thFleet) April 15, 2020
The US military carries out routine “security patrols” in the Persian Gulf, arguing the warships are needed to protect shipping routes and to “deter” Iran’s so-called “malign behavior” in the region. Tehran, however, sees the ever-expanding presence as provocative and threatening, and merely as a way for the US to enforce its “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign, which seeks to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero.
As tensions with the Islamic Republic spiked last year after a series of mysterious attacks on oil tankers, Washington stepped up patrols and escort missions around the Strait of Hormuz – a vital passage for the world oil supply wedged between Iran and the United Arab Emirates – pressuring several European allies to join in. Since last summer, the US military posture in the region has only grown, steadily surrounding Iran with an array of soldiers, aircraft, Navy vessels and missile platforms.
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