A total of eleven Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels conducted dangerous and harassing approaches to six U.S. military vessels in the international waters of the North Arabian Gulf on Wednesday, the U.S. Navy said in a statement.
The U.S. vessels were conducting joint integration operations with the US Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.
The IRGCN vessels came at close range and high speeds, crossing the bow and stern of the US Navy and US Coast Guard ships. At one point coming as close as 50 yards to the closest point of approach (CPA) to the USS Puller and within 10 yards of USS Maui’s bow, according to the Navy.
U.S. crews issued warnings from the bridge-to-bridge radio, sounding five short blasts from the ships horns and their acoustic noise maker devices, receiving no response from the IRGCN.
After an hour, the IRGCN responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio communication and moved away from the US military vessels and opened up the distance between them.
These maneuvers increase the risk of collision and are not internationally recognized in the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) “rules of the road” or internationally recognized maritime customs.
While the military is trained to act professionally, commanding officers do retain the inherent right act in self-defense, the Navy said.
#ICYMI: Iranian #IRGCN vessels with weapons manned harassed #USSLewisBPuller (ESB 3) while operating in international waters in the North Arabian Gulf. U.S. crews took actions deemed appropriate to avoid a collision.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) April 16, 2020