An Iranian patrol boat interacted “in an unsafe and unprofessional manner” with U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz this week, the U.S. Central Command said on Tuesday.
The boat, which is part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, is said to have “attempted” to blind an expeditionary ship and a guided missile destroyer by illuminating a searchlight while the two US ships were conducting “a routine transit in international waters” Monday night , the command said in a press release.
The Iranian ship also crossed the US ships within 150 yards, a distance CENTCOM described as “dangerously close, especially at night.”
While the two US ships de-escalated the situation with audible warnings and non-lethal lasers before proceeding without further incident, CENTCOM warned that the Iranian Navy’s actions “contrary to international standards for professional and safe conduct at sea.”
“This dangerous action in international waters is indicative of Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the Middle East,” Col. Joe Buccino, CENTCOM spokesman, said in the release.
Monday night’s incident is not the first time tensions have flared up between Iranian and US ships in recent months. In September, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Navy was briefly deployed Two US naval drones seized in Red Sea, which held unmanned vessels for about 18 hours before releasing them at the insistence of the US Navy. Earlier the same week, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Support ship attempted to seize a US drone in the Persian Gulf, but US Navy intervention prevented capture of the drone.
Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder called the actions “disturbing and inappropriate.”
In June 2022, a US Navy warship went under forced to fire a warning flare waved off an Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat that was reportedly heading straight for them. This incident also happened in the Strait of Hormuz, and in the hour-long encounter the boats came within 50 meters of each other, making for an even closer call than the December incident.
In March, three Iranian ships and several US Coast Guard and US Navy ships were locked in tense skirmishes for hours as the American boats from the Persian Gulf passed through the Strait of Hormuz. Warning flares and ship-to-ship communications were deployed as the Revolutionary Guard ship came within 25 yards of the US boats.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the Strait of Hormuz is a major gorge connecting the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. It is considered the world’s most important oil transit route, with about one-fifth of the world’s oil supplies passing through the strait every day. Any disruption to the straits can result in delivery delays, higher transportation costs, and higher energy prices around the world.