USS Mahan fires warning shots in first US-Iran run in of 2017
U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mahan fired three warning shots at Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels after they came within 800 meters of the ship on January 8.
The incident took place in the Strait of Hormuz and involved the U.S. Navy destroyer and four Iranian vessels, Reuters reported citing U.S. defense officials.
The report further said that USS Mahan, as it is customary, established communication with the Iranian vessels but that did not slow them down.
Before firing the warning shots, USS Mahan fired warning flares while a helicopter dropped a smoke float. According to Reuters, the Sunday encounter was one of seven but all others were not deemed unsafe.
Encounters between Iranian and U.S. Navy vessels are not uncommon. Last year saw a rise in the number of incidents in the Strait of Hormuz.
In January 2016, Iranian vessels captured 10 US Navy soldiers at gunpoint after they strayed into Iranian waters. The soldiers were released after spending a night captured on Farsi Island where they were filmed, and later broadcast on national TV, apologizing for their actions.
Prior to that, Iran staged naval drills during which live-fire missiles were fired near the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. Iranians harassed the same carrier a month later when they flew a drone over the carrier while Iranian media reported that a submarine managed to approach the carrier’s strike group without being noticed.
U.S. Navy destroyers were forced to fire warning shots on several occasions in 2016. The video below shows an incident from August 2016 when USS Nitze fired flares at a group of Iranian vessels that approached within 300 yards of the ship.