US Navy ships
US Navy shipsiStock

A US vessel fired warning shots at more than a dozen Iranian fast attack boats which buzzed close to a US Navy submarine and escort ships in the narrow Strait of Hormuz on Monday, the Pentagon said, according to AFP.

13 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy boats approached the seven US vessels at high speeds, closing within 150 yards (140 meters) before one of the US vessels fired 30 shots in two volleys, until they moved away, said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

"Sadly harassment by the IRGC-N is not a new phenomenon," said Kirby. "It's unsafe, it's unprofessional. It's the kind of activity that can lead to somebody getting hurt, and can lead to a real miscalculation there in the region."

"That doesn't serve anybody's interests," Kirby added.

Asked if the US vessels are allowed to fire directly on the Iranian boats and sink them, Kirby declined to describe their rules of engagement and would only say, "They have the right of self-defense and they know how to use that."

Monday’s incident marks the second such incident in two weeks. In late April, a US military ship fired warning shots after three vessels from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy came close to it and another American patrol boat in the Gulf.

In the last few years there have been several close encounters between Iranian and American vessels in the Persian Gulf. The Revolutionary Guard typically patrols the shallower waters of the Persian Gulf and its narrow mouth, the Strait of Hormuz.

One such incident in May of 2020 included a tense encounter between US and Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf.

The US military said at the time that 11 Revolutionary Guards naval vessels from the Guards navy came close to US Navy and coast guard ships in the Gulf, calling the moves “dangerous and provocative”.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard acknowledged that the incident had taken place, but also claimed that it was American forces who sparked the incident.

In April of 2020, a spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces said that the Islamic Republic will respond “severely” if US vessels violate its territorial waters.