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U.S. warship fires warning shots at Iranian boats

  • The U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Stout entered Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi in July 2009. A U.S. Navy ship fired three warning shots in the direction of an Iranian boat that was approaching another American ship head-on in the North Arabian Gulf on Wednesday, U.S. officials said, in an escalation of encounters in the region this week.

WASHINGTON » A U.S. Navy ship fired three warning shots in the direction of an Iranian boat that was approaching another American ship head-on in the North Arabian Gulf on Wednesday, U.S. officials said, in an escalation of encounters in the region this week.

According to U.S. Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban, the Iranian boat came within 200 yards of the USS Tempest and ignored several bridge-to-bridge radio calls and warning flares. It finally turned away after the USS Squall, which was with the USS Tempest, fired three warning shots from its .50-caliber gun, said Urban, a spokesman for the Navy’s 5th Fleet.

“This situation presented a drastically increased risk of collision, and the Iranian vessel refused to safely maneuver in accordance with internationally recognized maritime rules of the road,” said Urban.

The incident was one of three encounters that U.S. ships had with Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats in the Gulf on Wednesday. And they came a day after four small Iranian boats approached the USS Nitze at high speed in the Strait of Hormuz. The boats veered off after the U.S. fired flares.

The same Iranian boat that harassed the USS Tempest also crossed in front of the USS Stout three times at a high rate of speed on Wednesday in the same region. Urban called it an “unsafe intercept” and said the USS Stout, a guided missile destroyer, had to maneuver to avoid a collision.

In the third incident, three Iranian boats crossed in front of the USS Tempest at high speed, coming within 600 yards of the ship. The Tempest and the Squall are patrol ships.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook acknowledged the three incidents today, but said he did not have details. He said the U.S. ships are conducting themselves in a safe and professional manner and they will continue to take whatever steps they need to protect themselves.

Video of the incident involving the USS Nitze shows American sailors firing flares and sounding the warship’s horn as the Iranian boats approached. A sailor can be heard saying that the weapons on the Iranian boats were “uncovered, manned.”

Iran’s defense minister said today that his naval forces will warn or confront any foreign ship entering the country’s territorial waters.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Hosein Dehghan as saying that “if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it’s an invasion, we confront.” He added that Iranian boats patrol to monitor traffic and foreign vessels in its territorial waters.

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  • Sounds like the Iranians are playing a game of chicken. Glad the Navy finally put some rounds out there as a warning.
    Personally, given that our ships are way bigger, they should stop trying to maneuver when their speedboats get in their way.
    They should just run them over if necessary. The Navy ships should also go to battle stations and clearly train their weapons and
    radar on these boats and make it clear that they will respond with deadly force if the Iranians trigger fingers even twitch.
    The Navy should also be recording all these encounters on video so it is clear who was acting in a provocative and aggressive manner.
    The Iranians seem itching for a fight. I say, give um what they want.
    You can bet that the ChiComs are all watching this closely and if we allow the Iranians to thumb their noses at the Navy, they will begin
    doing the same in the disputed areas in and around the South China Sea.
    Giving in to a bully, only invites more of the same and it escalates. No one respects weakness whether it is people or nations.

    • Uhhh, you are so far behind the times it is laughable. US Navy has Mass Communication Specialists who operate photo and video equipment anytime there is an unauthorized aircraft or ship approaching. Been doing this for decades. Also maintain radar, GPS, and other records to show exactly what is going on.

      After the US Cole ship bombing by the small boat back in 2000, US Navy should publish a “Line of fire, protective bubble distance” off 300 meters for which any unauthorized ship crossing the line will be warned. Doesn’t stop, crosses the 200 meter line, take them out. You were warned.

  • I’d send a strong message too. The Iranian boat could have been loaded with explosives and the intent could be to blow up the U.S. ships. Stranger things have happened. I say U.S. should contact Iran and tell them the next time an unprovoked incident happens, we’ll blow their ships out of the water. Time to stop pussyfooting and show them to let sleeping dogs lie.

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