WASHINGTON: A U.S. Navy destroyer fired three warning shots towards four of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels on Sunday after they closed in at a high rate of speed in the Strait of Hormuz, two U.S. defense officials told Reuters on Monday.
The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the USS Mahan established radio communication with the boats but they did not respond to requests to slow down and instead continued asking the Mahan questions. The Navy destroyer fired warning flares and a U.S. Navy helicopter also dropped a smoke float before the warning shots were fired.
The Iranian vessels came within 900 yards (800 meters) of the Mahan, which was escorting two other U.S. military ships, they said.
The IRGC was not immediately available for comment.
The incident comes as President-elect Donald Trump is about to take office on Jan. 20. In September, Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harass the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be “shot out of the water.”
One official said similar incidents occur occasionally. Most recently in August, another U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots towards an Iranian fast-attack craft that approached two U.S. ships.
The official added that the warning shots were just one of seven interactions the Mahan had with Iranian vessels over the weekend, but the others were judged to be safe. – REUTERS
Story first published: 9th January 2017