An Iranian patrol vessel tried to blind the bridges of US Navy ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, US military says

USS The Sullivans on May 22, 2021.
USS The Sullivans on May 22, 2021.Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images
  • An Iranian vessel tried to blind the bridges of US Navy ships on Monday, CENTCOM said.

  • Two US Navy ships were conducting a routine crossing through the Strait of Hormuz.

  • The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy patrol boat crossed within 150 yards of the ships at night.

An Iranian patrol vessel tried to blind the bridges of two US Navy ships this week while they were sailing through international waters in the Middle East, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Tuesday.

Guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans and expeditionary sea base platform ship USS Lewis B. Puller were transiting the Strait of Hormuz, a thin body of water between southern Iran and the United Arab Emirates, when they were approached Monday night by an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) patrol boat, CENTCOM shared in a statement.

"The Iranian vessel attempted to blind the bridge by shining a spotlight and crossed within 150 yards of the US ships — dangerously close, particularly at night," CENTCOM said, adding that the US Navy ships were conducting a routine  crossing in international waters.

In response, the US vessels delivered warnings and used "non-lethal" lasers to de-escalate before continuing with their crossing, the US military said, adding that Iran's actions and maneuvers elevated the risk of collisions or miscalculations. 

"This dangerous action in international waters is indicative of Iran's destabilizing activity across the Middle East," said Col. Joe Buccino, a CENTCOM spokesperson, in the statement.

Monday's incident is at least the third time over the last few weeks that US forces have reported Iranian influence in waters off the coasts of Middle Eastern countries.

In late November, the US Navy said an Iranian-made suicide drone was used in an attack on a commercial tanker while it was sailing in the Northern Arabian Sea. And earlier that month, US forces seized a "massive amount" of explosive material — which can be used to fuel ballistic missiles — from a fishing vessel traveling from Iran to Yemen.

The US Navy and US Coast Guard vessels have also had repeated run-ins with IRGCN vessels over the years that the US military has characterized, as it did this week, as "unsafe and unprofessional."

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