Washington: Eleven vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came dangerously close to US Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Gulf, the US military said on Wednesday, calling the moves “dangerous and provocative.”
While such interactions had occurred occasionally a few years ago, they had largely stopped in recent months and years, and this incident comes at a time of increased tensions between the two countries.
According to the statement, the Iranian ships approached six US military ships while they were conducting integration operations with Army helicopters in international waters.
At one point, the Iranian vessels came within 10 metres of the US Coast Guard cutter Maui.
The US ships issued several warnings through bridge-to-bridge radio, blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices.
The Iranian ships left after about an hour, the statement added.
There was no mention of the incident in Iranian media.
“The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, (and) were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea,” the US military’s statement said.
The incident comes at a time of increased tensions between Iran and the United States. Earlier this year, the United States killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in a drone strike in Iraq.
Iran retaliated on January 8 with a rocket attack on Iraq’s Ain Al Asad base where US forces were stationed. No US troops were killed or faced immediate bodily injury, but more than 100 were later diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.