By Sam LaGrone, USNI News
A pair of U.S. warships were harassed by an Iranian patrol boat during a late evening transit in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
Expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) and guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) were sailing into the Persian Gulf when they were intercepted by a speedoat-sized Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy fast inshore attack craft, a CENTCOM spokesperson told USNI News on Tuesday.
“The Iranian vessel attempted to blind the bridge by shining a spotlight and crossed within 150 yards of the U.S. ships – dangerously close, particularly at night,” according to the statement from CENTCOM.
“The U.S. ships safely deescalated the situation through the [use] of audible warnings and non-lethal lasers. U.S. Navy ships continued their transit without further incident.”
In the statement, the command accused the IRGCN of violating, “international standards of professional and safe maritime behavior, increasing the risk of miscalculation and collision.”
CENTCOM did not release any photos or video of the incident that occurred in “pitch black,” according to a spokesperson.
The IRGCN is charged by Iran to patrol the Strait of Hormuz and is used as a coastal defense force. Separate from the conventual Iranian forces, the IRGC is the military arm of Iran’s sectarian government.
The IRGCN has intermittently harassed U.S. and allied ships operating in U.S. 5th Fleet. Iran have also been accused of attacking merchant ships in the Middle East.
In June, the Cyclone-class patrol coastal ship USS Sirocco (PC-6) and Spearhead-class USNS Choctaw County (T-EPF-2) were in the Strait of Hormuz when they were approached by three Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and repeatedly harassed.
In 2020, more than a dozen IRGCN fast attack craft “repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches of the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60), USS Firebolt (PC-10), USS Sirocco (PC-6), USCGC Wrangell (WPB-1332) and USCGC Maui (WPB-1304) while the U.S. vessels were conducting joint integration operations with U.S. Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in the international waters of the North Arabian Gulf,” the Navy said at the time.
Last month, a suspected Iranian explosive attack drone hit a merchant oiler off the coast of Oman, U.S. 5th Fleet concluded.
Iran has also attempted to capture U.S. and allied unmanned surface systems used for maritime domain awareness. In August, the IRGCN support ship Shahid Baziar took a Saildorne Explorer under tow to capture the unmanned vessel. In September, the Iranian Navy attempted to capture two unmanned Saildrones operated by the U.S. Navy.