The US military said on Wednesday that 11 vessels from the Revolutionary Guards navy had come dangerously close to US Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Gulf, calling the moves "dangerous and provocative".
"We advise the Americans to follow international regulations and maritime protocols in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and to refrain from any adventurism and false and fake stories," Sunday's statement from the Guards navy said."They should be assured that the Revolutionary Guards navy and the powerful armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran sees the dangerous actions of foreigners in the region as a threat to national security and its red line and any error in calculation on their part will receive a decisive response." The US said that the IRGC vessels conducted unsafe and unprofessional actions, coming around ships’ bows and sterns at close range in the North Arabian Gulf. They harassed the USS Lewis Puller which was supporting US 5th fleet operations. The Puller is operating Apache helicopters as a floating base, which some have alleged is a message to Iran.Video and photos showed the fast boats also harassing the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton. In the video the Iranian boats speed around the US warships.The Iranian naval harassment comes as Iranian media recently reported it had conducted underwater mapping last week for its submarines. A Hong-Kong flagged tanker also reported being boarded by armed men, suspected to be linked to Iran, before the men left on Tuesday. Last July the USS Boxer downed an Iranian drone using jamming equipment.Iran is struggling to confront a massive coronavirus outbreak and it has been angry that US sanctions are not being lifted. It has been seeking to harass US forces in Iraq. It sent the head of its national security council to Iraq in March to coordinate pressure against the US and sent IRGC head Esmail Ghaani to Iraq in early April to speak with pro-Iranian groups. Seth J. Frantzmann contributed to this report.