An Iranian patrol boat tried to temporarily blind two US ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Tuesday. US Navy ships responded by deterring the boat by, among other things, lasers. The incident came a week after the U.S. revealed that its nuclear submarine carrying ballistic missiles had also been sent to the region.
An Iranian patrol boat belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) approached two American ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz on December 5: the USS Lewis B. Puller, an ESB-class vessel known as a floating naval base, and the USS The Sullivans, a missile destroyer, reported responsible, among others for the Middle East region, United States Central Command (CENTCOM).
Incident in the Strait of Hormuz
“The Iranian vessel tried to blind the bridge with a searchlight and passed within 150 yards (137 meters – ed.) of the US ships – dangerously close, especially at night” – reported in a communiqué published late in the evening of December 6. The US ships responded by “safely de-escalating” the situation using audible warnings and “non-lethal lasers”.
CENTCOM stressed that US Navy vessels were in international waters at the time of the incident. “This dangerous occurrence in international waters is indicative of destabilizing activity Iran in the Middle East,” said Central Command spokesman Col. Joe Buccino. The Americans also stressed that the Iranian vessel’s actions “violated international standards of professional and safe behavior at sea, increasing the risk of misjudgment and collision.”
Incidents between ships USA and Iran are not rare in this part of the world. for American ships to respond by firing warning shots. Monday’s incident, however, took place during “a particularly sensitive period in relations between the two countries,” notes CNN. Washington in recent weeks strongly condemned the suppression of anti-government protests in Iran, while Tehran accused the Americans of organizing these protests.
In late November and early December, the US Navy also revealed that a US nuclear submarine carrying ballistic missiles, the USS West Virginia, had docked at a base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. This base is also located in the CENTCOM operational region. Although the reported docking took place in the last days of October, information on the locations of nuclear submarines of strategic importance is usually fully classified. The publication of this information was therefore perceived as a clear warning signal sent by the Americans.
“They should understand that a ballistic missile submarine that is impossible to locate can operate in any waters for a long time,” an unnamed U.S. military official told CNN. It was also revealed that the USS West Virginia was also present at an unspecified location in the Arabian Sea in the last days of October. A unit of this class is capable of carrying 24 ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.
Main photo source: DVIDS hub – US Navy photo / Seaman Daniel Gaither