US Navy prevents Iranian Navy’s ship from capturing its USV

The US Navy prevented a support ship from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) from capturing an unmanned surface vessel (USV) operated by the US 5th Fleet in the Arabian Gulf.

While transiting international waters on 29 August, the US 5th Fleet observed IRGCN support ship Shahid Baziar towing a Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel (USV) in an attempt to detain it.

saildrone
Photo: US Navy

US Navy’s patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt (PC 12) was operating nearby and immediately responded. US 5th Fleet also launched an MH-60S Sea Hawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, based in Bahrain.

The actions taken by US naval forces in response resulted in the IRGCN vessel disconnecting the towing line to the USV and departing the area approximately four hours later. The US Navy resumed operations without further incident.

The Saildrone Explorer USV the IRGCN attempted to confiscate is US government property and equipped with sensors, radars and cameras for navigation and data collection.

This technology is available commercially and does not store sensitive or classified information, the navy noted.

“IRGCN’s actions were flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.

American company Saildrone builds the USVs for ocean mapping, search operations, etc. The firm recently announced a partnership with defence company Austal USA to work on constructing of these vehicles.

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