Military Times

U.S. warship fires 3 warning shots as Iran escalates confrontations

A day after four Iranian boats harassed a destroyer in the Persian Gulf, a similar squad of vessels came after three more U.S. ships on Wednesday, according to a U.S. Navy spokesman.


A day after four Iranian boats harassed a destroyer in the Persian Gulf, a similar squad of vessels came after three more U.S. ships on Wednesday, according to a U.S. Navy spokesman.

The destroyer Stout and the coastal patrol ships Tempest and Squall were all approached throughout the day by small boats, 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban told Navy Times, escalating to three warning shots fired, as Iranian paramilitaries seek more confrontations in the Persian Gulf.

Tempest and Squall had two run-ins on Wednesday. First, three Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessels proceeded across Tempest's bow within 600 yards on three occasions, risking a collision.

Tempest blasted the ship's whistle three times while trying to establish radio contact, but received no response.

"Later, the Tempest and Squall were harassed by a Naser-class WAP Iranian vessel that closed Tempest head-on to within 200 yards," Urban said. "This situation presented a drastically increased risk of collision, and the Iranian vessel refused to safely maneuver in accordance with internationally recognized maritime rules of the road, despite several request and warnings via radio, and visual and audible warnings from both U.S. ships."

The U.S. patrol ships were operating in international waters at the time. Tempest fired three warning flares at the Iranian vessel as it called out on the radio and through the loudspeaker.

"Ultimately, Squall resorted to firing three warning shots from their .50-caliber gun, which caused the Iranian vessel to turn away," he added.

Later that day, the destroyer Stout, part of the deployed Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, was operating in the same area when the same Naser-class WAP vessel approached, proceeding across the bow three times at close range.

"In response to the vessel's unsafe approach, Stout maneuvered away from the harassing IRGCN vessel to avoid collision and employed devices to discourage the IRGCN vessel from continuing their approach towards Stout," Urban said.

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command deemed all three interactions unsafe and unprofessional in a week that has now seen four separate harassment attempts by Iranian forces.

A U.S. defense official says the shots were fired by the Squall, a patrol ship. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly so spoke anonymously.

Iran says its naval forces will warn or confront any ship entering its territorial waters.

The same Iranian boat that harassed the Tempest also crossed in front of the destroyer Stout three times at a high rate of speed on Wednesday in the same region. The U.S. official called it an unsafe intercept, and said the Stout had to maneuver to avoid a collision.

In the third incident, three Iranian boats crossed in front of the Tempest at high speed, coming within 600 yards of the ship.

Iran's defense minister said Thursday that his naval forces will warn or confront any foreign ship entering the country's territorial waters, The Associated Press reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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