A small Iranian ship pointed a gun at a US Navy helicopter in the Straits of Hormuz, Pentagon officials have revealed. The occurrence, which took place in international waters, is likely to intensify the mutual animosity between the two nations’ militaries.
The confrontation took place in the Straits of Hormuz when a US Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter flew within half a mile (0.8km) of two Iranian Navy ships in international waters, two American defense officials described to Reuters on Monday.
One of the ships, which reportedly belongs to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard fleet, pointed an unknown weapon at the US helicopter. As a rule, Iranian fast attack craft and patrol ships are provided with heavy machine guns or low-caliber cannon.
“The behavior by our standards is provocative and could be seen as an escalation,” the officials said, adding that they consider the act “unsafe and unprofessional.”
Saturday’s incident is the latest in a chain of similar seaside encounters that began earlier this year. In September, the USS Firebolt had to change course after an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel sailed directly across its path diverting it to the new course.
In July, the USS New Orleans and its escort ship, the USS Stout were approached by several Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels whose crews filmed the US sailors. The USS New Orleans was carrying about 650 Marines at the time, as well as Army General Joseph Votel, who command all American forces in the Middle East.
The most notable occurrence to date took place in January when ten US sailors were taken as prisoners after their vessels accidentally crossed into Iranian waters. Footage that later went viral showed US sailors in a humiliating position, kneeling on the deck of the patrol boat with their hands up and with tears on their faces, then, seated in a room being given tea, bottled water, and food by the Iranians.