Iran: Warning Shots in the Persian Gulf Indicate Growing Tensions

Warning shots by a us ship, against a ship by iranian

The Iranian ship did not respond to radio calls, flares and horn blasts as it came within 150 yards (137 meters) of the Thunderbolt, forcing the US sailors aboard to fire the warning shots, McConnaughey said.

The shots were used as a last resort after the Iranian ship failed to respond to calls over the radio and sound signals from the American ships, including five blasts from the U.S. Navy ship's whistle, an global symbol for danger.

The vessel from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) "conducted an unsafe and unprofessional interaction" with the coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt as it participated in a military exercise in the global waters of the northern Arabian Gulf.

An American defense official told the AP that the Iranian naval vessel came within 150 yards of the Thunderbolt.

However, tensions remain over the Syrian war and Iran's ballistic missile programme, and stand-offs at sea have happened.




It wasn't until the warning shots were fired that the Iranian craft halted its approach, the Navy said. The sound of machine gun fire followed. It said the Thunderbolt fired into the air "with the intention to provoke and create fear". Iran and the USA frequently have tense naval encounters in the Persian Gulf.

In 2016 alone, there were 35 cases of "unsafe or unprofessional" behavior by Iranian vessels in 2016, according to U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

While close encounters between USA ships and Iranian small craft in the Gulf are common, it's rare for an American ship to fire warning shots.

But in a statement issued via the IRGC's news site Sepah, it was the American "battleship" which moved towards one of Iran's patrol boats.

Naval incidents with Iran are not entirely unusual, though ones involving shots fired are.

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