US Military Vessel Provocation in Persian Gulf Neutralized, Iran's IRGC Says

Saul Bowman
July 26, 2017

A U.S. Navy patrol boat fired on an Iranian military ship Tuesday as it made an alarmingly fast and close approach in the Persian Gulf, marking the latest aggressive encounter between the two adversaries.

Commander Bill Urban, the spokesman for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, said the Iranian vessel came within 730 meters of the USS Bataan assault ship. The U.S. patrol ship then ultimately opened fire with five short bursts of its.50-caliber heavy machine gun to drive away the incoming vessel. An official told Reuters the Iranian boat ignored attempts to communicate over the radio.

The episode marks the latest in a series of close encounters between United States ships and Iranian naval vessels.

The incident occurred at about 3:00 am local time (0000 GMT) in the northern Persian Gulf, when the Iranian vessel began to approach the USS Thunderbolt.

"Unfortunately, par for the course with Iran", said Michael Singh, former senior director at the National Security Council and current managing director at the Washington Institute, in a tweet Tuesday.

According to the officials, the Iranian boat approached and came within 150 yards of the USS Thunderbolt. There have been several incidents between the United States and Iran in recent months, including one in June that involved an Iranian boat training a laser on a USA helicopter above the Strait of Hormuz. The Mahan did not fire any warning shots.

While the number of encounters between Iranian and US forces has declined in recent months, Tuesday's incident is one of several so far this year.

"Of note", he continued, "we actually had several other interactions with some smaller Iranian vessels following this one that were safe and professional". The U.S. Navy condemned the actions taken by Iranian forces, calling them "outrageous and unacceptable", and has since taken significant steps to prevent future incidents.

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