A U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots when an Iranian vessel in the Gulf came within 150 yards (137 meters) on Tuesday in the first such incident since President Donald Trump took office in January, U.S. officials said.
The last major incident was earlier in January, though there have been instances when a U.S. vessel fired a flare as well as an event in March when a U.S. Navy ship was forced to change course after multiple fast-attack vessels from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard came too close.
In a statement, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said the patrol craft, named Thunderbolt, fired the warning shots in front of the Iranian vessel after it ignored radio calls, flares and the ship’s whistle.
The Iranian vessel was from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the statement said, adding that it stopped its unsafe approach after the warning shots were fired.
A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Iranian boat was armed but that the weapons were unmanned. The Thunderbolt was accompanied by a number of other vessels, including those from the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s navy issued a statement on Tuesday noting that an American “battleship” moved toward one of its patrol boats in international waters in the northern Gulf and fired two shots in the air, according to Sepah News, the official news site of the Guards.
“The Revolutionary Guards navy boat, without paying attention to this unprofessional and provocative behavior, continued its mission and after a short period of time the American ship left the area,” the statement said, according to Sepah News.
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