US Reports 'Dangerous' Iranian Moves Around Its Naval Vessels
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard speedboats and a warship engaged in dangerous maneuvers around US Navy vessels in the southern Persian Gulf earlier this month, the first such incident in at least a year, the US Navy said Tuesday.
Footage released by the Navy showed an IRGC boat cut in front of the USCGC Monomoy, causing the Coast Guard vessel to come to an abrupt stop with its engine smoking on April 2.
The incident happened four days before Iran was set to start talks in Vienna with the participating countries of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA, or the 2015 nuclear deal. In addition, indirect talks were scheduled between Iran and the United States in the same venue, with the mediation of the European parties to the JCPOA, the UK, France and Germany.
The talks have taken place with no concrete results so far. Iran is adamant that the US should lift the Trump-era sanctions before it reduces uranium enrichment beyond the agreement’s limits.
The Guard also did the same with another Coast Guard vessel, the USCGC Wrangell, said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Navy's Mideast-based 5th Fleet.
Iran did not immediately acknowledge the incident, which resulted in no injuries or damage.
"The U.S. 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 maneuvers," Rebarich said.
“After approximately three hour of the US issuing warning and conducting defensive maneuvers, the (Iranian) vessels maneuvered away from the US ships and opened distance between them."
Iran frequently did try to harass US warships in the region, specially before former President Donald Trump adopted his ‘maximum pressure’ against Tehran in 2018, raising tensions. In the past one year, no particular incidents had been reported.
One notable difference with past incidents was the presence of an a large Iranian warship in the dangerous maneuvers.
The larger vessel Harth 55, a 180-foot, support vessel, repeatedly crossed in front of the bows of the two US vessels, coming as close as 70 yards away, The Wall Street Journal quoted US officials as saying.
“US naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner, while our commanding officers retain the inherent right to act in self-defense,” Cmdr. Rebarich said.
With reporting by AP