White House Explains Why US Destroyer Fired Warning Shots at Iranian Vessels

A US Navy ship fired three warning shots at four of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard vessels as they closed at high speed.

The crew of the Mahan also used smoke deterrent and loud horns to warn the boats off, but they continued to approach until warning shots were fired, according to officials.

In September, during the U.S. presidential election campaign, Trump said that any Iranian vessels harassing U.S. Navy ships in worldwide waters would be "shot out of the water" under his leadership.

The altercation occurred in the Strait of Hormuz between Oman and Iran, US defence officials told Reuters.

The incident is the latest and most dramatic confrontation between Iranian and US forces near the Strait of Hormuz, and it follows an established pattern of high-speed approaches by Iran's patrol craft.

The Iranians subsequently responded via radio.

"With Iran, when they circle our attractive destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn't be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water, OK?"

The Iranian vessels ignored successive audio warnings, a siren alert and the ship's whistle during what the official called an "unsafe and unprofessional" interaction.

Four small inshore attack crafts began harassing the United States ships, with six separate approaches by the Iranians over a nine-hour period, essentially the whole period of the transit, sources said.

In September, patrol boats of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard harassed the USS Firebolt, a coastal patrol ship. At the time, the helicopter was providing escort to the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower cruised the strait.

There is, however, a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship with helicopters, jets and more than 1,000 marines in the region.

In January 2016, 10 US sailors were detained overnight by Iran after their patrol boats drifted into Iranian waters.

  • Rogelio Becker