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US Warship Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Military Vessel


An Iranian vessel steers close to the U.S. Navy coastal patrol craft USS Thunderbolt (R) in the Persian Gulf in a still image from video provided by the U.S. Navy, July 25, 2017.

A U.S. Navy ship patrolling in the Persian Gulf fired warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard ship that came dangerously close to the vessel Tuesday morning local time.

The USS Thunderbolt fired "a couple of warning shots" at the Iranian vessel after it came within 140 meters of the U.S. ship at a high rate of speed, a U.S. defense official told VOA Tuesday.

A statement from the Navy called the Iranian interaction "unsafe and unprofessional."

"The Iranian vessel's actions were not in accordance with the internationally recognized ... 'rules of the road' nor internationally recognized maritime customs, creating a risk for collision," the Navy said.

The shots were used as a last resort after the Iranian ship failed to respond to calls over the radio and sound signals from the American ships, including five blasts from the U.S. Navy ship's whistle, an international symbol for danger.

Two ships from the United States Coast Guard were patrolling with the USS Thunderbolt during the incident, a defense official told VOA.

"These sort of unsafe and provocative actions from the Iranians do nothing but needlessly increase the risk for miscalculation," he added.

Last month, an Iranian military vessel trained a laser on an American helicopter that was accompanying three American military ships in the Strait of Hormuz.

Commander Bill Urban, the spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, said the Iranian vessel came within 730 meters of the USS Bataan assault ship.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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