The Pentagon on Tuesday reported that a ship of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy made a persistent and unsafe approach on U.S. vessels and had to be warned away.
The Iranian vessel, an IRGC Nassar-class patrol craft, reportedly came within 150 yards of the coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt (PC-12) while in international waters of the Persian Gulf.
As stated in the release, the Iranian ship did not respond to attempts to establish radio communications, leading to more drastic measures.
“The Thunderbolt crew then fired warning flares and sounded the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts on the ship’s whistle, but the Iranian vessel continued inbound,” officials said. “As the Iranian vessel proceeded toward the U.S. ship, the crew again sounded five short blasts before firing warning shots in front of the Iranian vessel.”
After the shots across the bow, the Iranian craft finally halted.
“The Iranian vessel’s actions were not in accordance with the internationally recognized… ‘rules of the road’ nor internationally recognized maritime customs, creating a risk for collision,” said a statement from the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
The Thunderbolt, a 179-foot coastal patrol craft commissioned in 1995, carries a pair of stabilized 25mm Mk38 cannons, four .50 caliber heavy and two 7.62mm general purpose machine guns, Mk 19 grenade launchers, and assorted other weapons. The ship has also been recently retrofitted with the new MK 60 Griffin Missile System, a modified Hellfire missile launcher capable of multiple salvos.
As reported by USNI News, Thunderbolt was operating with two Coast Guard cutters, a U.S. Army logistics vessel, and the guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf.
According to the Sepah News Agency, the official organ of the IRGC, the Navy’s Third Division released a statement that a U.S. Navy “battleship” fired at an Iranian patrol boat in the Persian Gulf that was patrolling in international waters and that the U.S. fleet operated in an “unprofessional and provocative” manner before leaving the area.