The chief of naval operations announced on Wednesday that a U.S. Navy warship was harassed by four Iranian boats. The incident involved the guided missile destroyer USS Nitze.
A U.S. defense official announced to the public that the four Iranian boats had encroached on the Nitze at alarming speeds. This approach was “unsafe” and “unprofessional”. In response to their rapid approach, the U.S. destroyer fired ten flares and sounded the ship’s whistle multiple times in warning.
The Nitze also attempted to make contact with the Iranians over the radio over ten times. However it was not successful. The destroyer was even forced to change course in order to avoid the vessels.
Two of the four boats completely ignored the warnings. Instead they sped up even more until they were within 300 yards of the U.S. ship.
Adm. John Richardson remarked,
“We have to be mindful that we don’t become complacent as things get steadily busier, steadily more engaging and that we’re thoughtful about how we approach those challenges”.
The four boats from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard navy eventually left the scene.
Smdr. Bill Urban is a U.S. Navy Spokesman. Urban commented,
“We absolutely expect all maritime nations to act in a professional manner in accordance with international law…The U.S. Navy continues to remain vigilant, and is trained to respond in a professional manner for all interactions.”
Since then Iran’s defense minister has fired back.
Gen. Hosein Dehghan announced to Iranian media this morning that,
“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”.
The incident took place in the Strait of Hormuz. For many years, Iran has claimed that is has a legal right to control access to the Strait. However the international maritime law allows the rite of passage under specific transit rules. At this time one-fifth of the world’s oil supplies flows through the Strait.