US Navy ship fires warning shots at Iranian vessel

The incident took place at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, according to CNN, and involved the Cyclone-class patrol ship USS Thunderbolt, Fox News reported.

Earlier on Tuesday, a US official was quoted by media as saying that warning shots were fired from a US Navy vessel towards an Iranian boat north of the Persian Gulf.

It wasn't until the warning shots were fired that the Iranian craft halted its approach, the Navy said. The U.S. Navy again has accused Iranian patrol boats of harassing an American warship in the Persian Gulf, this time with one Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel stopping right in front of the USS Firebolt and almost causing a collision. "It did not respond to any signals, they did not respond to any bridge-to-bridge calls, they felt there was no choice except to fire the warning shots", the official told AFP news agency.

The video shows the Iranian boat coming near the bow of the United States ship, which the Navy said was within 150 yards.

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The USS Thunderbolt is a Cyclone class patrol ship now assigned to the U.S. Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain, and has a crew of four officers and 24 sailors.

"The important takeaway is that the Thunderbolt went through an exhaustive series of radio hails, warnings (five short blasts) and fire flares prior to firing warning shots in front of the Iranian vessel", he said in an email. It said the Thunderbolt fired into the air "with the intention to provoke and create fear".

Iran and the USA frequently have tense naval encounters in the Persian Gulf, almost all involving the Revolutionary Guard, a separate force from Iran's military that answers only to the country's supreme leader.

In 2016 alone, there were 35 cases of "unsafe or unprofessional" behavior by Iranian vessels in 2016, according to U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

  • Megan Austin