The US Navy has said that Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels made ‘dangerous and harassing approaches’ with its forces.
Around 11 IRGCN ships conducted close contacts with US vessels in the North Arabian Gulf yesterday.
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) were carrying out joint interoperability operations.
The US Army’s AH-64E Apache attack helicopters were participating in the exercise with the US Navy vessels in international waters.
A statement from the US Central Command said: “The IRGCN vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the US vessels at extremely close range and high speeds, including multiple crossings of the Puller with a 50-yard closest point of approach (CPA) and within ten yards of Maui’s bow.”
The US Navy said its crews issued numerous warnings using bridge-to-bridge radio and five short blasts from the ships’ horns.
Long-range acoustic noise maker devices were also used to sound warnings.
The ‘dangerous and provocative actions’ continued for about an hour, when the IRGCN vessels responded to the radio queries and left.
The actions violated the internationally recognised Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).
The joint integration operations started late last month and also involved the US Coast Guard and marines.
The navy said in a statement: “US naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner, while our commanding officers retain the inherent right to act in self-defence.”
Separately, a Russian SU-35 conducted unsafe contact with a US P-8A Poseidon aircraft in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea.