“Dangerous and provocative actions,” U.S. Navy claims Iran’s Navy taunts ships in Persian Gulf

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Six US Navy vessels conducting drills with US Army Apache attack helicopters in international waters off Iran Wednesday were repeatedly harassed by 11 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Navy vessels, the US Navy’s 5th Fleet reported. (5th Fleet, US Navy Photo)

PERSIAN GULF — Wednesday, eleven Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches of the USS Lewis B. Puller, USS Paul Hamilton, USS Firebolt, USS Sirocco, USCGC Wrangell and USCGC Maui.

The U.S. vessels were conducting joint integration operations with U.S. Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in the international waters of the North Persian Gulf.

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According to a statement released by the U.S. Navy, the Iranian vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the U.S. vessels at extremely close range and high speeds, including crossing within 50 yards of the Puller and within 10 yards of Maui’s bow.

The U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices, but received no response from the IRGCN.

After approximately one hour, the Iranian vessels responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, then maneuvered away from the U.S. ships and opened distance between them.

The U.S. Navy says, “The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea “rules of the road” or internationally recognized maritime customs, and were not in accordance with the obligation under international law to act with due regard for the safety of other vessels in the area.”

The incident comes one day after Iranian gunmen stormed a Hong Kong-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz before quickly leaving when they learned the vessel was from China.

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

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