July 27, 2017

According to two US defense officials, a US Navy vessel fired warning shots on Tuesday at an Iranian patrol boat, which was armed and situated in the Persian Gulf at the northern end.

The Iranian ship is assumed to have been in operation under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as reported by defense personnel who have familiarity with the occurrence. The officials reported that the Iranian boat advanced towards the USS Thunderbolt, coming within 150 yards of the US Navy patrol boat.

Accompanying the USS Thunderbolt was the  USS Vella Gulf, which is a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, as well as two other  US Coast guard ships.

The Iranian response to the US ship warning shots, which were also accompanied by radio calls,  was not immediate, even with the five short blasts of the US Navy’s whistle emerging from the ship, an internationally recognized form of communication signals that indicate danger in the vicinity, the officials declared.

The Navy then fired warning shots into the sea in response to serious concerns of a potential collision, one of the officials added.

The Iranian vessel then halted its’ innocuous actions but lingered around, remaining in the area for a number of hours, as one official reported. There were several US Navy vessels in the immediate area as the circumstances of the situation were unfolding as there were performing routine patrol operations that involved that particular area of international waters, as stated by the defense officials.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is asserting that it “foiled the US warship’s provocative move against an Iranian Navy patrol boat in the Persian Gulf,” as reading in a statement that the Iran’s official news agency IRNA published.

The statement continued, saying that the US warship set forth to provoke and frighten the Iranian boat with two warning shots being fired off.

The 179-foot USS Thunderbolt is a Cyclone-class patrol ship, equipped with two 25mm Mk-38 machine guns, two .50-caliber machine guns, and two automatic grenade launchers, as reported by the Navy.

But there is a history of tense encounters between the US and Iran in the Persian Gulf.  Back in June, Iranian vessels conducted, as labeled by the US military, “unsafe and unprofessional” actions, following the training of a US helicopter laser that was being utilized to create a formation of American ships sailing in the intercontinental sea of the Strait of Hormuz.

Even though the encounter concluded without warning shots being fired, US defense official s reproved the employment of the Iranian laser.

Back in April, the US imputed an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship of performing in an “unprofessional but also provocative”  department while coming near he USS Mahan, a US destroyer, while it was lingering in the Persian Gulf.

The official noted that the Iranian vessel was in possession of its weapons, and they were manned and has coasted as close as 1,000 yards from the US destroyer. There were no warning shots fired from the Mahan.

On the other hand, the USS Mahan indeed fired warning shots back in January after, according to accounts provided by four different sources five Iranian ships came very close to the destroyer as well as two additional vessels that were in the process of entering the  Strait of Hormuz.

US Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, as the spokesman for the Pentagon, has told reporters on a previous occasion that there have been 35 occurrences in 2016 where behavior by Iranians that was considered unsafe or unprofessional behavior, although the “vast majority”  had happened during the first six months of the year.

At that time, a second US official stated that the amount of unsafe and unprofessional interactions during 2017 were “way below” the amount that occurred by the same season in 2016.

 

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