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Iranian fast boats force US navy ship to alter course

IRGC naval vessels come within 600 yards of American tracking craft sailing through strategic Strait of Hormuz

The USNS Invincible tracking ship (Public domain, US Navy, Wikipedia)
The USNS Invincible tracking ship (Public domain, US Navy, Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — A Navy official said a US ship was forced to change course and move out of the way of fast boats from the Iranian Revolution Guard Corps, while moving through the Strait of Hormuz during the weekend, in what has become a frequent occurrence there.

No warning shots or flares were fired. The official said the Iranian boats tried to get between the US and other ships, coming within about 600 yards of the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship. The US ship was traveling north through the strait into the Persian Gulf.

The official says the Navy considers the incidents unprofessional and dangerous, but they have been happening fairly regularly. In previous incidents, US ships have fired warning shots.

The official was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

This picture released by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on January 13, 2016, shows detained US Navy sailors' boats in custody of the guard in the Persian Gulf. (Sepahnews via AP)
This picture released by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on January 13, 2016, shows detained US Navy sailors’ boats in custody of the guard in the Persian Gulf. (Sepahnews via AP)

Iran has previously harassed US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and around the Strait of Hormuz, with the most notable case being Iran’s capture of 10 US Navy sailors in January 2016, who had drifted into Iranian waters after experiencing mechanical problems.

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Indian Sea through which a fifth of the world’s oil supply passes.

Iran has previously threatened to close off the strait in the past over tensions with the US, a move that would lead to turmoil in global oil markets.

In February, the US, the United Kingdom, France and Australia held a series of naval drills in the area, which British naval officials said were meant to promote stability in the Persian Gulf and to ensure “the free flow of commerce” through the Strait of Hormuz, while denying the exercises were connected to US President Donald Trump’s recent adoption of a more hawkish stance against Iran.

Two weeks after the drills by Western navies, Iran held its annual exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, although they did not involve the IRGC.

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