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US Navy blasts 'unsafe and unprofessional' behavior by Iranian ships in Persian Gulf

US Navy blasts 'unsafe and unprofessional' behavior by Iranian ships in Persian Gulf
© US Navy

The U.S. Navy on Tuesday called out what it is describing as “unsafe and unprofessional” behavior by Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf earlier this month, releasing video and photos of the incident.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy’s “actions were deemed unsafe and unprofessional,” U.S. 5th Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich said in a statement.

“Their actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) ‘rules of the road’ or internationally recognized maritime customs, and were not in accordance with the obligation under international law to act with due regard for the safety of other vessels in the area,” she added.

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The incident, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, happened April 2 and was the first such confrontation in a year.

During the encounter, three Revolutionary Guard fast attack craft and a support ship called the Harth 55 approached two U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats while the U.S. vessels were “conducting routine maritime security patrols in the international waters” in the southern Persian Gulf, Rebarich said.

The Harth 55 repeatedly crossed the bows of the U.S. boats at “extremely close range,” the statement said. In the closest approaches, the Iranian ship got within 70 yards of the bows of the U.S. vessels, the USCGC Wrangell and the USCGC Monomoy, according to the statement.

At one point, the Harth 55 closed in “aggressively” on the Wrangell’s bow, causing the U.S. ship to maneuver to avoid collision while sounding five short blasts from its horn, the statement said.

The video released by the Navy also shows what the Navy says is the Harth 55 cutting in front of the Monomoy, forcing it to abruptly stop while its engine is smoking.

“The U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships’ horns, and while the Harth 55 responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, they continued the unsafe maneuvers,” Rebarich said in the statement.

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After about three hours, the Iranian ships moved away from the U.S. ships, according to the statement.

“U.S. naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner, while our commanding officers retain the inherent right to act in self-defense,” the statement said.

The Coast Guard ships are assigned to Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the service’s largest overseas unit, and operate under U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

The incident happened days before the Biden administration began indirect talks with Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement that former President TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE withdrew the United States from, after which Tehran resumed development of its nuclear program.

The indirect talks, which U.S. officials have said are making slow and incremental progress, are set to resume Tuesday in Vienna.