US Navy ship fired warning shots at Iranian vessels

A US Navy ship fired warning shots at Iranian boats on Sunday near the Strait of Hormuz, a US official on Monday, APA reports citing CNN.

The USS Mahan tried to order the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard boats to stop via bridge-to-bridge radio communication, but the vessels didn't respond to the request, prompting the destroyer to fire three warning shots with a.50 caliber machine gun Sunday morning, a US defense official said.

The Iranian vessels came within 800 meters of the Mahan, which was escorting two other USA military ships, they said.

The Navy reported back-to-back encounters in August that it considered harassment, including one in which fast-approaching Iranian vessels caused the Norfolk-based guided missile destroyer USS Nitze to fire flares and alter course.

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The harassment came as the Mahan, along with the USS Makin Island, were headed through the strait toward the Persian Gulf.

The Navy was attempting to make contact with the Iranian vessels after they began encroaching on the USA warship at an atypical rate, Reuters reported.

The official said the boats were approximately more than 800 metres away when the warning shots were fired. "Mahan then fired three warning shots with a crew-served.50 caliber machine gun, and the IRGCN vessels arrested their high-speed approach", a Navy official told CBS News.

In September, Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harass the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be "shot out of the water".

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In November, there was more tension in the same waters when an Iranian Navy boat trained its gun at a passing USA military helicopter.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said there have been 58 incidents involving Iranian vessels deemed unsafe or unprofessional since the beginning of 2015. At the time, the helicopter was providing escort to the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower cruised the strait.

The Iranian government has not commented on the incident, which comes only days before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened a tougher line against Iran.

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