According to the US, Iranian IRGC ships came close to the ships of the US Navy and the Coast Guard on Monday evening.
The US Navy has announced that it has fired warning shots on Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) ships in the Gulf and has accused IRGC ships of getting close to US ships in international waters.
In a statement on Tuesday, the U.S. Fifth Fleet said three IRGC ships came close to a U.S. Navy patrol ship and a U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat on Monday evening.
“The US crews issued several warnings over bridge-to-bridge radio and loudspeakers, but the IRGCN ships continued their close-range maneuvers,” the statement said.
“The crew of [US navy patrol ship] Firebolt then fired warning shots and the IRGCN ships moved a safe distance from the US ships. “
It is the second encounter between US and Iranian naval forces in Gulf waters this month, after about a year without such incidents.
Earlier this week, the US Navy released footage dated April 2 showing an IRGC-commanded ship being cut in front of the USCGC Monomoy, causing the US Coast Guard ship to abruptly stall with its engine smoking .
Iran did not immediately acknowledge this encounter, resulting in no injury or damage.
The Iranian express ship closest to the American ships was 62 meters tall during the incident on Monday evening.
Iran and the US are currently in indirect talks on a possible return to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.
Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the landmark agreement in 2018 in order to develop a strategy of “maximum pressure” against Tehran that heightened tensions between the two nations.
US President Joe Biden had promised renewed diplomacy with Iran, and the world powers hope that both countries can once again fully comply with the agreement officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Earlier on Tuesday, the head of the U.S. Forces in the Middle East said the U.S. military had been careful not to escalate incidents with the IRGC Navy into reprisals, despite not specifically addressing Monday’s interaction.
“The activities we normally see from the IRGC Navy are not necessarily activities directed by the Supreme Leader or the Iranian state, but irresponsible actions by local commanders on the ground,” said Navy Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central commands.