US and Iran had Another Close Call in Strait of Hormuz

US and Iran had Another Close Call in Strait of Hormuz USS Mahan DDG Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky, USN/Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

On Sunday, a U.S. Navy destroyer started firing at four Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz. The incident took place when the boats reportedly displayed “harassing” behavior, according to a U.S. Defense official.

Hormuz: US Navy Firing

A guided-missile destroyer known as the USS Mahan fired three warning shots from a .50-caliber machine gun. One of the Iranian boats traveled within 900 yards of the destroyer. A sailor on board the boat was manning the main gun, according to FOX News.

Two other Navy vessels and the USS Mahan were traveling towards the Persian Gulf. The USS Makin Island, the oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl and the Mahan were going north through the strait.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the Iranian boats put forward unsafe and unprofessional interaction. He talked about the speed with which the boat approached as well as the manning of its weapon. “They only stopped their approach following the warning shots being fired,” Davis said.

During the incident on Sunday, the Iranian boats took off after the warning shots were fired. They later made radio contact with the USS Mahan. While contacting the destroyer, they asked for Mahan’s course and speed, said U.S. officials.

The incident took place a day before the military finance expansion was declared. On Monday, the Iranian parliament gave the green light to expanded military finance. This included an increase of funds for its long-range missile program, as per Iranian media.

Hormuz: Early Rash Interactions

The Sunday incident is viewed as a return to a range of rash encounters between U.S. and Iranian vessels. These incidents had diminished over the latter half of 2016. In 2015, the U.S. Navy counted almost 23 interactions, considered unsafe and unprofessional. There have been 35 incidents in 2016.

The Washington Post said that the most significant incident occurred in August. This involved the coastal patrol ship USS Squall firing three warning shots, which took place after three Iranian boats approached the Squall and another similar U.S. ship, the USS Tempest, at extreme speed.

Another incident took place in which Iranians took 10 U.S. Navy personnel at gunpoint. The Navy personnel were held blindfolded as night passed, infuriating U.S. officials and embarrassing the Navy.

ALSO READ: South China Sea – Russian Warships Visit Philippines; China Tests Weapons in Disputed Region