Warships belonging to the United States and Iran had a tense encounter in the waters of the Gulf earlier this month, the first such incident in about a year amid wider turmoil in the region over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal, the US Navy said on Tuesday.
Videos show American Navy showed a ship commanded by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) cut in front of the USCGC Monomoy, causing the US Coast Guard vessel to come to an abrupt stop with its engine smoking.
The IRGC did the same with another Coast Guard vessel, the USCGC Wrangell, said Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the US Navy’s Middle East-based 5th Fleet.
In 2017, the US Navy recorded 14 instances of what it describes as “unsafe and or unprofessional” interactions with Iranian forces. It recorded 35 in 2016, and 23 in 2015.
The incidents at sea almost always involve the IRGC, which reports only to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The US crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships’ horns, and while the (Iranian) Harth 55 responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, they continued the unsafe manoeuvers,” Rebarich said.
“After approximately three hours of the US issuing warning and conducting defensive manoeuvers, the (Iranian) vessels maneuvered away from the US ships and opened distance between them,” added Rebariach.
The incident comes as Iran negotiates with world powers in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal from which former US President Donald Trump withdrew and reimposed sanctions on Iran.