Pentagon: Seven Iranian fast attack boats harass US Navy ship

Pentagon: Seven Iranian fast attack boats harass US Navy ship
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Seven Iranian fast attack boats harassed a U.S. Navy ship in the Middle East over the weekend, the Pentagon said Tuesday. 

The incident occurred Sunday in the central Persian Gulf, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters. 

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During the encounter, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy fast attack craft approached the USS Firebolt when it was operating in international waters, Davis said. 

Three of the boats "maneuvered close to the ship, shadowing her course from a range of about 500 yards," Davis said. 

The boats eventually broke off, but one turned toward the Firebolt and came to a stop directly in front of the ship, he added.  

"This caused the Firebolt to have to maneuver to have to avoid collision. They came within about 100 yards of each other during the interaction. The Firebolt attempted multiple radio communications with the Iranians," Davis said. 

"This is another example of another unsafe and unprofessional interaction we've had with the [Iranian navy] in the Gulf." 

A defense official said there have been 31 such interactions with the Iranian navy so far this year. 

"This is clearly a pattern, and it's one we're not happy about, and we'd like to see this sort of behavior stop," Davis said. 

Davis said there was no weapons fire exchanged between the U.S. Navy and the Iranians, adding that the Iranian boats were armed but did not train their weapons on the Firebolt.

"These are small patrol boats; they typically have machine guns that are bolted to the deck," he said. 

Last week, Central Command's Gen. Joseph Votel warned Iran that the U.S. Navy would protect itself if necessary.