The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Maui fired 30 warning shots at Iranian vessels on Monday after Iran conducted “unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers and failed to exercise due regard for the safety of U.S. forces” as they transited the Strait of Hormuz.
A group of 13 fast in-shore attack craft operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy made a “high speed approach” toward several U.S. Navy vessels. The U.S. ships involved were the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey; patrol ships USS Thunderbolt, USS Hurricane and USS Squall; guided-missile submarine USS Georgia, and Coast Guard patrol boats USCGC Wrangell and USCGC Maui.
As the U.S. ships were following regular procedure while in transit, two Iranian vessels approached the Maui and the Squall “at a high rate of speed (in excess of 32 knots) with their weapons uncovered and manned,” the Navy said.
The Maui and the Squall sent two bridge-to-bridge verbal warnings, five “acoustic device warnings” and five horn blasts to ward off the Iranian attack craft. When the Iranian craft failed to respond, the Maui fired a round of warning shots, and fired them again after the Iranian ships closed to within 150 yards.
The Navy said the Iranian ships approached an “unnecessarily close range that put the ships and their crews in immediate danger.”
“[T] the U.S. is not an aggressor; our naval forces remain postured in a non-provocative manner that exemplifies professionalism, incentives adherence to international law and customs, and persuades others to emulate our actions,” the Navy said. “Our forces are trained, however, to conduct effective defensive measures when necessary.”
“America is proud of its Coast Guard for not backing down in a tough area of the world where tensions continue to rise,” said AUSN Executive Director Jason Beardsley. “This event highlights the importance of senior policymakers doing their job so we don’t put our troops in these tough situations.”
The encounter marked the second time in two weeks that Iranian ships have harassed the U.S. Navy. In late April, 11 Iranian ships harassed U.S. Navy ships for about an hour.
On May 9, the USS Monterey seized a ship that was transporting thousands of weapons – the Navy believes that ship set sail from Iran and aimed to supply weapons for the war in Yemen.
The events have led some to urge the Biden administration not to lift sanctions against Iran, a step Democrats are pushing for in exchange for Iran’s adherence to the 2015 nuclear agreement.
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