A fleet of four heavily-armed Iranian speedboats reportedly surrounded and “harassed” a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer close to the Strait of Hormuz. The Department of Defense reported that the crafts bearing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard flags came as close as 300 yards to the American war vessel.
A Navy officer who recorded the encounter said that the Iranians’ behavior was “unsafe and unprofessional.” Reportedly, the speed boats had the weapons “uncovered” and “came way too close for comfort.”
The Defense Department reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boats conducted a “high-speed intercept” on U.S. Navy destroyer USS Nitze on Aug. 23.
The department added that the American vessel’s crew had launched repeated warnings during the close-encounter such as sounding the ship’s horn and firing flares. Despite warnings, the small speedboats approached the U.S. ship from sides.
The US Naval Forces Central Command commented on the incident. A NAVCENT official explained that such actions can escalate into extra “defensive measures.”
“Commanding officers have an inherent obligation for self-defense,”
NAVCENT commander Bill Urban recently said.
The navy official added that the U.S. warship hadn’t violated the international law when it transited the region. According to defense officials, USS Nitze operated in international waters when the approach occurred.
Situation is Dangerous and Harrasing
Additionally, Navy officials described the situation as “dangerous” and “harassing.” Fortunately, US Navy members on board had been trained to respond in a “professional manner.” In a video that has surfaced online, one can see the warning flares being fired from Nitze and hear the horn.
An unidentified crew member narrates the close approach in real time. The narrator says they have “full visual contact” with the Iranian patrol boats. He adds that ‘bridge-to-bridge comms” led to no positive response.
Nevertheless, it isn’t the first time Iran harasses an American war vessel in the region. Last month, five of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels “came dangerously close” to USS New Orleans as it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
The U.S. warship had General Joseph Votel on board on that day. Votel is now the top U.S. officer in the Mideast.
Image Source: Wikimedia