The United States Navy said late in the day Wednesday that a major incident occurred between US warships and Iranian vessels in the north Persian Gulf earlier in the day.
A US military statement condemned what it called "dangerous and harassing" approaches of six American vessels in international waters by nearly a dozen Iranian fast boats.
"Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels conducted unsafe and unprofessional actions against U.S. military ships by crossing the ships’ bows and sterns at close range while operating in international waters of the North Arabian Gulf," a statement from the US 5th Fleet, based in the Mideast, said.
"U.S. forces are conducting joint interoperability operations in support of maritime security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations," the statement added. The Iranian boats, presumably operated by the elite IRGC force, attempted to interfere and disrupt the drills in a bold provocation which hasn't been seen since last summer.
#Iran guard corps naval vessels "conducted unsafe and unprofessional actions against U.S. military ships by crossing the ships’ bows and sterns at close range while operating in international waters of the North Arabian Gulf," says @USNavy. https://t.co/JXKRII2v8M pic.twitter.com/newWjLXU3V— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) April 15, 2020
Reuters describes further of the US Navy statement: "Iranian ships approached six U.S. military ships while they were conducting integration operations with Army helicopters in international waters."
"At one point, the Iranian vessels came as close at 10 yards to the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Maui."
Dramatic video was published by 5th Fleet showing parts of the dangerous incident.
The US ships reportedly issued multiple warning signals, including blasts from the ship's horns and acoustic warnings during the incident which lasted for up to an hour.
Amid a broader oil price war involving the Saudis and Russians, and US, it appears the Iranians are lashing out with their own potentially market-destabilizing behavior, also amid grinding US-led sanctions, essentially saying they too have serious cards to play in the Strait of Hormuz.
Only yesterday the IRGC boarded and briefly detained in Iranian waters a Hong-Kong flagged tanker traversing the gulf in what was a clear "message".