US Navy Has Tense Encounter with IRGC in Strait of Hormuz

The US Navy informed Tuesday that one of its ships was forced to fire a warning flare during the tense encounter its forces had with Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Arabian Gulf.

According to the Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet’s press release, three Guard vessels had an unsafe and unprofessional encounter as the Cyclone-class patrol ship USS Sirocco and Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Choctaw County transited Monday through the strategic waterway through which a fifth of all traded oil passes.

During the encounter that overall lasted about an hour, one of three of the IRGC fast crafts, a high-speed Guard Boghammar, raced head-on at the Sirocco before changing course, shows the video released by the Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.

USS Sirocco first warns the Boghammar with the Iranian flag flying above it, repeatedly blowing its horn at it, and then fires a warning flare at the Boghammar, which turns away as it came within 50 yards (45 meters) of the Sirocco, raising the risk of the vessels running into each other.

The Navy said in its release that IRGC’s actions have increased the risk of miscalculation and collision by not meeting international standards of professional or safe maritime behavior, noting that this is the second unsafe and unprofessional incident it had with the Guard’s forces in recent months.

Previously on March 4, vessels of the Navy and US Coast Guard had a tense over two hours long encounter with three Guard ships as they were exiting the Persian Gulf through the strait.

Tehran, however, did not immediately acknowledge the incident that comes in light of the high tension stemming from the stalled negotiations with world powers over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal as Tehran enriches uranium to weapons-grade levels closer than ever under the decreasing international oversight.

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