Flashpoints

Watch the guided-missile destroyer Winston Churchill help Iranian ship in Arabian Sea

The guided-missile destroyer Winston Churchill provided assistance on Thursday to an Iranian-flagged dhow after the vessel signaled it was in distress in the Arabian Sea, according to the Combined Maritime Forces.

After flashing its lights to indicate it was in distress, the dhow crew told the Churchill via bridge-to-bridge radio that the vessel had a dead battery — preventing the ship from starting — and that they were out of food and water.

A boarding team from the Churchill transited the Iranian vessel using a rigid-hull inflatable boat before proceeding to carry out an initial seaworthiness inspection and provide the crew with food and water.

Ultimately, the Churchill crew stayed on the scene until the Oman Coast Guard could provide further assistance, since the Churchill did not have the appropriate battery for the dhow.

Per the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, mariners of all nationalities are obligated to offer a hand to those in distress in the water.

Tensions with Iran have had ramifications on maritime security for U.S. Just last month, Iran released drone images of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group transiting the Strait of Hormuz.

Even so, Navy officials told Military Times the most recent episode of an unsafe interaction with Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz happened back in April. In that instance, the Navy said 11 vessels with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy “repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches” of six U.S. warships in the north Arabian Gulf.

Vice Adm. James Malloy, now deputy commander of U.S. Central Command and former commander of U.S. Naval Forces in U.S. Central Command, the U.S. Fifth Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces, said in July during an event with the Middle East Institute that Iranian vessels continue to “act as provocateurs” in maritime settings.

Regarding the April confrontation, Malloy said he is primarily concerned with Iran’s intent, since “sometimes their activities that are provocative in nature are just bad seamanship.”

Overall though, Malloy said he isn’t too worried about Iran’s capabilities — even after the April confrontation.

“I can’t think of anything that they do that keeps me up at night,” Malloy said.

“I don’t worry about capability because I know what capability we bring to bear, and it is substantial,” Malloy said.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Vice Adm. James Malloy is now the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.

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