US Navy ship fires warning shots at Iranian ships

US Navy ship fires warning shots at Iranian ships
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A U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots at Iranian boats on Sunday in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz, a Pentagon official said Monday.

Four Iranian speed boats with weapons manned approached the destroyer USS Mahan at high rates of speed, coming within 900 yards, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said at a briefing.  

The Mahan used radio calls, flares and other signals to steer the ships away, but there was no response. A U.S. helicopter overhead also dropped smoke grenades. 

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The U.S. ship finally fired three warning shots with a crew-served .50 caliber machine gun, and the Iranian ships, belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, stopped their approach.

The confrontation came as the Mahan, along with the USS Makin Island, were headed through the strait toward the Persian Gulf with the USS Makin Island and the USNS Walter S. Diehl.

"This was an unsafe and unprofessional interaction, and that's due to the fact that they were approaching at a high-level of speed with weapons manned and disregarding repeat warnings via radio, audible sirens, ships whistle, and only stopped their approach following warning shots being fired," Davis said. 

Davis called the incident "somewhat out of character" for Iran recently. 

He said in 2015, there were 23 such "unsafe" and "unprofessional" incidents, and in 2016, there were 35 such incidents, with the majority occurring in the first half of the year. 

The last such incident, where the U.S. Navy had to fire warning shots at IRGC vessels was August 24. 

"They had largely stopped," Davis said.