Oil tanker in the Persian Gulf (archive)
Oil tanker in the Persian Gulf (archive) iStock

The United States and Iran had their latest near miss Monday, after three vessels controlled by Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps buzzed two American ships at what the US military called “dangerously high speed”, The Washington Post reported.

The USS Sirocco, a Cyclone-class patrol ship, and the USNS Choctaw County, a fast transport vessel, were in routine transit through international waters in the Persian Gulf when three Iranian boats designed for fast attack approached the Sirocco head on, said a US military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the encounter.

The official added that the Iranian ships diverted only after the Sirocco issued an audible warning signal. The Iranian boats also came within 50 yards of the Choctaw County, prompting the Sirocco to deploy a warning flare.

The Iranian navy’s actions “did not meet the international standards of professional or safe maritime behavior, increasing the risk of miscalculation and collision,” said Col. Joseph Buccino, spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

“CENTCOM forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere in the area of responsibility international law allows while promoting regional stability,” he added.

Monday’s dramatic interaction, lasting about an hour, ended when the Iranian ships departed the area, officials said.

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.