A US Navy coastal patrol ship has fired warning shots following an ‘unsafe and unprofessional’ approach made by an Iranian vessel in international waters, US Central Command (Centcom) officials said.
The US patrol vessel, USS Thunderbolt, was participating in a coalition exercise in the Persian Gulf when the incident took place.
The Cyclone-class patrol ship was also accompanied by the navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf and two US Coast Guard (USCG) vessels at the time of the disturbance, reported CNN.
Centcom officials noted that the Iranian ship came within 150 yards of USS Thunderbolt.
The Iranian ship did not respond to repeated attempts made by the US Navy to establish radio communications with the vessel as it approached.
USS Thunderbolt's crew subsequently fired warning flares and sounded the internationally recognised danger signal of five short blasts on the vessel’s whistle. The Iranian vessel continued to move inbound despite these warnings.
The crew sounded five short blasts once more, before firing warning shots in front of the Iranian vessel as it continued to move towards the US Navy ship, the Centcom officials added.
The Iranian vessel reportedly stopped on its way following the navy's warning shots.
Officials have further noted that the actions of the Iranian ship were not in accordance with the internationally recognised ‘rules of the road’, nor with internationally recognised maritime customs, which created a potential risk of collision.
Image: An Iranian naval vessel makes a close approach to the coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt, right, in international waters in the Persian Gulf. Photo: courtesy of the US Navy.