Four Iranian warships harassed a US Navy destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, speeding so close to the destroyer that the US ship had to swerve to avoid collision.
The incident took place in the strait leading out of the Persian Gulf. The USS Nitze, a guided-missile destroyer, was surprised by four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy high-speed patrol boats weaving towards it in a serpentine formation.
“We have visual contact with four Iranian…WPBs…Bridge to bridge COMMS were conducted but no response. Weapons uncovered…appears to be unsafe, unprofessional,” said a radio report from the American ship.
The report was interrupted by loud blasts from the ship’s horn, attempting to warn off the patrol. The Iranian boats did not respond to Nitze’s hails or warning flares but kept coming until they approached within 300 yards of the Nitze before slowing and backing off.
Nitze was forced to change course multiple times to avoid a potential collision and maintain separation, even though there were offshore oil rigs in close proximity.
US officials said that the incident had occurred in international waters, where the US ship had a perfect right to be. Iran’s defense minister Hossein Dehghan, however, implied that it had been in Iranian waters when he said on Thursday that Iran would confront any “acts of aggression” by foreign vessels “in our waters.”
The Iranian vessels were “not abiding by international law and internationally recognized maritime rules of the road,” said US Central Command spokesman Commander Kyle Raines on Wednesday.