An Iranian patrol boat attempted to temporarily blind U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz, where it controls seven out of the eight islands. The patrol boat shone a spotlight toward the U.S. vessels and crossed within 150 yards of them, the U.S. Central Command has said.
The incident happened Monday night. “An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy patrol boat interacted in an unsafe and unprofessional manner as U.S. Navy ships transited the Strait of Hormuz, the evening of Dec. 5,” CENTCOM said in a press release Tuesday. This was a violation of international standards for safe maritime behavior, increasing the risk of miscalculation and collision, it added, according to CNN.
The expeditionary sea base platform ship USS Lewis B. Puller and guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans were approached by the IRCGN patrol boat while conducting a routine transit in international waters. The U.S. ships safely de-escalated the situation by means of audible warnings and non-lethal tasers before continuing their transit without further incident, the outlet reported.
“The Iranian vessel attempted to blind the bridge by shining a spotlight and crossed within 150 yards of the U.S. ships – dangerously close, particularly at night,” the release stated.
“This dangerous action in international waters is indicative of Iran’s destabilizing activity across the Middle East,” CENTCOM spokesman Col. Joe Buccino said in the statement.
This is not the first such incident between Iranian and U.S. ships in the region. In June this year, three IRGCN fast attack craft harassed cyclone-class patrol coastal ship USS Sirocco and Spearhead-class USNS Choctaw County in the Strait of Hormuz.
“One of the IRGCN vessels approached Sirocco head-on at a dangerously high speed and only altered course after the U.S. patrol coastal ship issued audible warning signals to avoid a collision. The Iranian vessel also came within 50 yards of the U.S. Navy ship during the interaction, and Sirocco responded by deploying a warning flare,” the U.S. 5th Fleet stated at the time.
The June 20 incident had come after a period of calm between Iran and the U.S. Navy. Prior to this, an Iranian helicopter had come within 23 meters of the amphibious warship USS Essex in November 2021. At the time, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby had issued a response, stating, “When you have another armed force, in this case the Iranian Navy, that flies like this, you definitely run the risk of some sort of escalation and a miscalculation.”