Sun, 03 Jul 2022

The encounter confirmed by the US 5th Fleet took place in the Strait of Hormuz and reportedly involved an intentional near miss

Two US Navy vessels faced off with three fast inshore attack craft belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Monday, the US 5th Fleet has revealed.

In its statement, the US Navy said that an hour-long encounter took place in the Strait of Hormuz. The report described the Iranian speedboats' actions as "unsafe and unprofessional."

The USS Sirocco as well as the expeditionary fast transport ship the USNS Choctaw County are said to have been "conducting a routine transit in international waters" at the time of the incident.

According to the US 5th Fleet, one of the Iranian attack craft "approached Sirocco head-on at a dangerously high speed and only altered course after the US ship issued audible warning signals to avoid a collision." The Sirocco is also said to have deployed a warning flare during the encounter.

Eventually, the three Revolutionary Guard speedboats left the area, with the US vessels continuing their transit, the statement reads.

The US 5th Fleet has accused the Iranian sailors of failing to "meet international standards of professional or safe maritime behavior," and "increasing the risk of miscalculation and collision."

The US Navy also stressed that its forces will continue their operations in the air and at sea "anywhere international law allows."

The statement is accompanied by three photos of the Iranian speedboats.

Tehran had not issued any comment regarding the incident at the time of writing this article.

As a chokepoint into the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz holds strategic importance. A report by the US Energy Information Administration claimed that in 2018, the Strait's "daily oil flow averaged 21 million barrels per day, or the equivalent of about 21% of global petroleum liquids consumption."

Over the last several years, there have been numerous incidents involving US and Iranian Navies as well as civilian vessels.

In May, Iranian forces seized two Greek-owned oil tankers there, which, as Euronews reported, were still in Iranian custody in mid-June.

This month, Bloomberg cited Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying that the seizure was in retaliation for Greece "stealing Iranian oil" - an apparent reference to Athens impounding a Russian-flagged tanker carrying 115,000 tons of Iranian oil in late May.

Earlier that month, Iranian officials also issued a denial after Washington accused the Revolutionary Guard of provocation in the Strait of Hormuz.

Similar encounters took place in 2020, 2017 and 2016 as well.

In 2019, the US confirmed that Iranian forces had shot down one of its surveillance drones in the area.

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