Tehran, Iran. With tensions running high in the gulf region over a Saudi-Iranian showdown, US Navy officials Wednesday were decrying what they said were a series of “unsafe and unprofessional” encounters with Iranian vessels in the Straits of Hormuz, with the latest incident occurring just yesterday.
American officials complain three Navy ships as well as a US Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter were treated “unprofessionally” by an Iranian Navy vessel while traversing the international waters of the Straits of Hormuz, an American military statement said.
Pentagon spokesperson US Navy Commander Charles Griswald told reporters there had been 35 such incidents of unsafe or unprofessional behavior by Iranian vessels in 2016. Naval officials from COMBLATT command said the use of a laser made the encounter unsafe and unprofessional.
At one point during the encounter, the statement said, the Iranian vessel came within 800 yards of a U.S. guided-missile destroyer, trained a spotlight on the US ship and scanned it from bow to stern, which scared the American crew.
Each of the three American ships, the USS Bataan, USS Cole and a dry cargo ship USNS Washington Chambers were traveling through he strait, when they were approached by the Iranian vessel. The Iranian sailors also shone a laser on the CH-53E helicopter that was accompanying the US ships in formation, according to the Griswald statement.
A senior US defense official told News Front the Iranian vessel was a missile boat and the use of the Iranian laser was detected by the helicopter, which, in turn, proceeded to fire off flares as part of its defensive measures.