US Navy clashes again with Iranian vessel

Iran’s belligerence in the Persian Gulf continues as it again threatened a US Navy destroyer.

The US Navy experienced another tense encounter with an Iranian vessel on Monday when a guided-missile destroyer fired a flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) vessel in the Persian Gulf before it was forced to alter its course to avoid the Iranian warship.

Lt. Ian McConnaughey, of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, confirmed the incident and said the Iranian boat had come within 1,000 meters of the USS Mahan.

The lieutenant said that Mahan “made several attempts to contact the Iranian vessel by bridge-to-bridge radio, issuing warning messages and twice sounding the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts with the ship’s whistle, as well as deploying a flare to determine the Iranian vessel’s intentions.”

The Iranian vessel later sailed away.

“Coming inbound at a high rate of speed like that and manning weapons, despite clear warnings from the ship, is obviously provocative behavior,” Fox News quoted one American official as saying.

Iranian authorities did not immediately report the incident.

The USS Mahan had a similar clash with the Iranian navy in January. At the time, the destroyer fired three warning shots at armed Iranian patrol boats that were speeding toward the American warship at the entrance to the Persian Gulf after the Iranian vessels ignored multiple warning attempts by the Mahan crew.

The number of acts of belligerence by Iranian forces against US troops stationed in the area has more than doubled since the signing of the controversial nuclear deal a year ago.

This latest incident is among a growing list of Iranian provocations against US forces, mostly maritime, in the region.

In November, an IRGC boat pointed its weapons at a US Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter, threatening to shoot it down.

In September, Iran threatened to shoot down two US Navy aircraft flying in the Persian Gulf.

Earlier that month, there were several dangerous encounters between US ships and IRGC boats in the Gulf.

Last December, the Iranians fired rockets near a US warship and other vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, and a month later they flew a drone over the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

In October 2016, Houthi rebels in Yemen fired rockets several times at US Navy ships in the area. Gen. Joseph Votel, the top commander of US forces in the Middle East, said he believes Iran was behind the incidents. He sharply criticized the Islamic Republic for its naval provocations, saying they were worrying because they risked setting off a full-blown conflict.

“What we see with the Iranians is not particularly responsible,” Votel stated in August. “It is provocative, in some cases; it’s unsafe. And it can lead to situations where we may not be able to de-escalate in a time before something happens.”

By: World Israel News Staff