/US navy fires warning shots at Iranian vessels
USA Navy

US navy fires warning shots at Iranian vessels

Iran has accused a US Navy aircraft carrier of firing warning shots at Iranian vessels in the Gulf, the second such incident in less than a week.

The USS Nimitz, accompanied by another US ship and a helicopter, on Friday behaved in an “unprofessional and provocative” way before leaving the area, said a statement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards carried by local media on Saturday.

The Guards said the incident took place near an Iranian oil and gas field in the Gulf.

The US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet had no immediate comment.

The incident came after a US Navy patrol boat fired warning shots on Tuesday near an Iranian vessel that American sailors said came dangerously close to them during a tense encounter.

“The Iranian vessel’s actions were not in accordance with the internationally recognised ‘rules of the road’ nor internationally recognised maritime customs, creating a risk for collision,” the US Navy said, referring to Tuesday’s incident.

Frequent occurrence

Such incidents between the Revolutionary Guards and the US Navy are frequent. The Pentagon reported 35 similar cases last year and 23 in 2015.

The Revolutionary Guard is a separate force from Iran’s military and it answers only to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian forces view the US presence in the Gulf as a provocation. They have accused the US Navy of unprofessional behavior, especially in the Strait of Hormuz, the mouth of the Gulf through which a third of all oil trade passes by sea.

Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic relations since 1979 when Iranian militant students stormed the US embassy and took 52 American hostages for 444 days.