WASHINGTON — Four fast craft operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Navy (IRGCN) made high-speed passes at a US Navy warship Tuesday afternoon near the Strait of Hormuz, the US Navy reported Wednesday.

The guided missile destroyers Nitze and Mason were headed outbound Tuesday afternoon, US Navy officials said, proceeding from the Persian Gulf into the Gulf of Oman, when the IRGCN vessels approached. As reported by the US Navy, Nitze tried on 12 separate occasions to raise the Iranians on radio with no response.

As two of the craft continued inbound at high speed, Nitze sounded five short blasts from the ship's whistle, giving the maritime danger signal used when another vessel's intentions are not understood or its indicated course is dangerous. Two more five-blast signals were sounded and flares were fired — all with no response.

The two closest Iranian craft approached to within 300 yards of Nitze before the destroyer, as seen in a video, increased to high speed and pulled away from the Iranians, avoiding nearby offshore oil rigs.

In a statement, US Navy Central Command (NAVCENT) "assessed the interaction as unsafe and unprofessional due to the Iranian vessels not abiding by international law and maritime standards including the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) maritime "Rules of the Road." The Iranian high rate of closure on a Unites States ship operating in accordance with international law while transiting in international waters along with the disregard of multiple warning attempts created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures by Nitze."

Although the two destroyers were reported as maneuvering "in company" for the strait transit, it is not clear how far away the two ships were.

NAVCENT spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban noted there have been previous recent incidents with IRGCN vessels interfering with US Navy ships in the Gulf, but did not provide further details.

Both destroyers are based in Norfolk and deployed June 1 with the Dwight D Eisenhower carrier strike group.

Christopher P. Cavas was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

Share:
More In Naval
Pacific Marines move to formalize role as the stand-in force
In practice, the Pacific Marines have been the inside force even as the rest of the joint force considered China’s growing anti-access/area-denial capabilities. Now, they're formalizing what it means to be a Stand-In Force and what new gear will enable them.