The US Coast Guard ship fired 30 warning shots on Monday against a speedy approach made by 13 vessels of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) in the Strait of Hormuz close to the mouth of the Persian Gulf.
According to a statement made by Pentagon, the warning shots were fired by the US Coast Guard cutter Maui after Iranian vessels conducted unprofessional and unsafe maneuvers. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the Iranian vessels approached "very aggressively".
The encounter occurred when seven US naval and Coast Guard ships includingU.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey, patrol coastal ships USS Thunderbolt, USS Hurricane and USS Squall, Coast Guard patrol boats USCGC Wrangell and USCGC Maui were transiting the waters as they escorted the guided-missile submarine Georgia.
The pentagon in its statement gave a vivid description of the encounter. It stated that during the transit by the US fleet 13 Iranian vessels made a high-speed approach during which two fast boats of the group vessels split and made an attempt to approach the USS Squall and Maui from behind with an excessive speed ranging over 32 knots and operated at a close distance of fewer than 150 yards (450ft). At this moment the coast guard officers on Maui spotted that the Iranian vessels had their weapon uncovered and manned after which they decided to fire 30 warning shots from a 0.50 caliber machine gun to sway them away.
This is the second incident of such a tense encounter between the two nations in the Persian Gulf within a month. The statement by the pentagon emphasized the fact of the increased number of Iranian Vessels since the last act of harassment on April 26 when under similar circumstances three IRGCN vessels came very close to a US military ship after which US Coast Guard vessel USCGC Baranoff fired warning shots.
The Iranian media in response has labeled the actions of the US Navy after the warning shots were fired as "provocation" and claims by Washington as "false narratives".The statement by IRCGN confirmed the encounter with seven US vessels and accused the US Navy of, "unprofessional behavior such as flying helicopters, firing flares, and aimless and provocative shooting".
The Iranian Guards claimed that they were following their routine mission in territorial waters and didn’t cite any presence of the American vessels. The statement released by the Iranian state media warned the US by saying, "It would be better for the Americans to avoid unprofessional behavior and not to endanger the security of the Persian Gulf by obeying the rules and regulations of the sea."
Iranian Navy guards in their statement strongly claimed that the forces will continue to"calmly and confidently follow their missions in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf" and are ready to respond to "any miscalculation" by the US.
Tensions between the two nations have been escalating since former US President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal of 2015 between the countries in 2018 which was followed by the first act of violation of the pact by Iran in 2019. After which several such claims of harassment and accusations of provocation have been made by both sides. At present, it is still unknown if the incident took place with the Iranian government being cognizant of its occurrence.
These incidents come amidst enhanced efforts made by several dominant countries of the world to encourage the US and Iran to once again comply with the 2015 nuclear deal. The fourth rounds of indirect talks have concluded just a week earlier in Vienna.
The repeated occurrence of tense encounters in international waters between the US and Iran is bound to create disruptions and prolong the conclusion of peace talks between the countries into a positive outcome.