US fires warning shots at Iranian boats in Strait of Hormuz

James Marshall
May 11, 2021

Two of the boats then broke off and approached the USA ships from behind at about 37 miles per hour "with their weapons uncovered and manned", according to the Navy, which described the Iranian vessels as "a type of speedboat armed with machine guns".

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter fired two rounds of warning shots at a group of Iranian fast boats after what the Pentagon described as an "unsafe and unprofessional" encounter in the Strait of Hormuz.

This is the second time within the last month that United States military vessels have had to fire warning shots because of what they said was unsafe behaviour by Iranian vessels in the region, after a relative lull in such interactions over the past year. The encounters come as the United States and Iran are in indirect talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the U.S. left in 2018.

Asked whether it appeared the Revolutionary Guard are trying to pick a fight with the US Navy, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby declined to comment on the Iranians' intentions.

"Sadly, harassment by the IRGC navy is not a new phenomenon", Kirby acknowledged Monday. "This kind of activity is the kind of activity that could lead to somebody getting hurt and can lead to a miscalculation there in the region". After coming into close contact with Iranian vessels at an "unnecessarily close range", USA forces fired multiple warning shots at three vessels of the IRGCN. The warning shots fired then were the first in nearly four years.

In late April, the US Navy disclosed the details about an incident that took place on April 26 in the northern part of the Persian Gulf. The sub was sailing on the surface. The six Navy escort ships included the guided missile cruiser USS Monterey.

The U.S. last week intercepted thousands of weapons from Iran in the North Arabian Sea that were bound for the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Kirby said that the Iranian boats on Monday were "acting very aggressively".

In that incident, the Iranian fast boats came within 62 meters of the USS Firebolt after several failed attempts to hail the Iranian vessels. The two then sped toward some of the United States ships.

After "bridge-to-bridge verbal warnings, five acoustic device warnings, and five short blasts of the ship's horn, the internationally recognized danger signal", the US ships finally began firing warning shots, according to NAVCENT.

After the US tried "all the appropriate and established procedures involving hip blasts, bridge to bridge radio transmission and other ways of communicating", US Coast Guard Cutter Maui fired approximately 30 warning shots, Kirby said. It fired another volley when the Iranian boats got within 137m.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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