One day after a US spy plane had to take "evasive action" over the East China Sea after a Chinese fighter jet showed off its Top Gun skills and appeared 90 meters in front of the interloper, a US Navy patrol ship fired warning shots toward an Iranian vessel near the northern Arabian Gulf on Tuesday after the vessel came within 150 yards (137 meters).
Reuters, which confirms the report, quotes an official who said the USS Thunderbolt fired the warning shots after the Iranian vessel ignored radio calls and the ship's whistle. The Thunderbolt was being accompanied by several U.S. Coast Guard vessels.
The official also said that the Iranian vessel appeared to be from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“The IRGCN boat was coming in at a high rate of speed. It did not respond to any signals, they did not respond to any bridge-to-bridge calls, they felt there was no choice except to fire the warning shots,” the defense official told AFP.
The incident comes as tensions in the Arabian Gulf remain elevated throughout the Qatar crisis, with Iran backing up the small kingdom against the Saudi-led Arab bloc. Additionally, Iran lashed out at the US following the latest sanctions and even though Trump's administration recently declared that Iran was complying with its nuclear agreement with world powers, he warned that Tehran was not following the spirit of the accord and that Washington would look for ways to strengthen it.
Similar incidents have happened periodically, the last in January when a U.S. Navy destroyer fired three warning shots at four Iranian fast-attack vessels near the Strait of Hormuz after they closed in at high speed and disregarded repeated requests to slow down.