US Destroyer Fired Warning Shots At “Harassing” Iranian Fast-Attack Ship

Yesterday, we reported that four Iranian ships carried out a “high speed intercept” of a US destroyer, the USS Nitze, in the Strait of Hormuz, an incident that the official dubbed “unsafe and unprofessional”, cited by Reuters. The four vessels belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “harassed” a U.S. destroyer on Tuesday by carrying out a “high speed intercept” in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. Defense official said on Wednesday.

Moments ago, CNN reported that in a separate incident, A US Navy ship fired three warning shots after a “harassing” Iranian fast-attack craft approached and circled two U.S. Navy ships and a Kuwaiti vessel in the northern Gulf on Wednesday.  It said the U.S. ship fired the shots into the water after the Iranian ship did not leave after a brief radio conversation, according to U.S. officials.

The Iranian ship reportedly circled the U.S. ships, coming within 200 yards of the vessels, and would not leave the area. The U.S. Navy ships then fired several warning flares and attempted to make radio contact with the Iranian ship. After a brief radio exchange, the Iranians refused to leave, CNN reported, forcing the U.S. Navy ships to follow defensive maritime procedures and fire three warning shots at the Iranian vessel.

This is the second incident in two days: as noted above, the United States on Wednesday had reported another incident in which it said Iranian vessels harassed a U.S. warship near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday.

CNN also provided more details on initial incident, reporting that according to a US official two of the Iranian vessels slowed and turned away only after coming within 300 yards of the US guided-missile destroyer “as it transited international waters near the Strait of Hormuz, and only after the destroyer had sent multiple visual and audio warnings.”

USS Nitze

The Iranian vessels moved at high speed toward the Nitze, which was operating in accordance with international law in international waters and ignored maritime “rules of the road” as set out in the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. According to the Navy official, the IRGC vessels ignored multiple warnings, creating a dangerous, harassing environment that could have pushed the Nitze to take defensive measures, escalating the situation.

The four IRGC vessels approached at high speed. After identifying them, the Nitze tried 12 times to make contact by radio without receiving a response, according to the Navy official. As two of the Iranian vessels continued to barrel toward the Nitze at high speed, the destroyer used an internationally recognized maritime danger signal three times.

That signal — five short blasts of the ship’s whistle — is used when another vessel’s intentions are not understood or its indicated course is dangerous. At the same time, the Nitze also used visual warnings, firing 10 flares in the direction of the approaching vessels. Again, the destroyer got no response, the official said.

Meanwhile, that is not how Iran saw the events, with its defense minister saying on Thursday that his country would confront any foreign vessel that enters its territorial waters.

Hossein Dehghan did not comment directly on Tuesday’s affair. Though he insinuated that the incident occurred inside Iranian territory, US officials have stated it took place in international waters.

“Naturally these boats constantly monitor the developments and foreign vessels’ movements and naturally this happens in the waters of our own country. If any foreign vessel enters our waters, we will give them a warning and if it is an act of aggression, we will confront them,” he said.

Apparently, even or maybe especially if the ships belong to the one nation that recently paid Iran hundreds of millions in ransom money to fund a hostage release.

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