American and Iranian warships had a near-miss encounter on Monday after three IRGC vessels zipped past US Army counterparts at high speed and nearly caused a crash, the US Naval Forces Central Command announced on Tuesday.
The patrol ship “USS Sirocco” and the fast transport vessel “USNS Choctaw County” in the Persian Gulf on routine transit when three Iranian boats approached the Sirocco head-on – coming within 50 yards of the Choctaw County and diverting only when the Sirocco issued an audible warning signal and deployed a warning flare.
“(The Iranian Navy) did not meet the international standards of professional or safe maritime behavior, increasing the risk of miscalculation and collision,” said US Naval Forces Central Command.
“(The Iranian Navy) did not meet the international standards of professional or safe maritime behavior, increasing the risk of miscalculation and collision.”Col. Joseph Buccino
Persian Gulf tensions
Monday’s encounter was the latest in a string of incidents between the US and Iranian navy in international waters on the Persian Gulf. A group of three Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGCN) vessels harassed two US Coast Guard ships in the Persian Gulf at the beginning of April, forcing US vessels to fire warning shots at the Iranian ships.
In late March, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Hossein Salami warned Middle Eastern governments – including Israel – against any role in the Persian Gulf.
“We explicitly declare and warn that the continuation of such relations is not acceptable at all,” he was quoted as saying, referring to the Israeli naval presence in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman. “They should know that the existence of the evil Zionist regime everywhere is a cause of insecurity.”
Seth J. Frantzman contributed to this report.