U.S. Fired Warning Shots at Iranian Boats in Strait of Hormuz

  • Navy says incident happened Sunday after warnings ignored
  • Iran has been reviving oil exports after sanctions eased

The USS Mahan.

Photographer: AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. Navy guided-missile naval destroyer fired warning shots at four Iranian rapid-attack craft in the Strait of Hormuz in the first such confrontation since August, according to the Navy.

The incident took place on Sunday after the armed speedboats manned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards ignored visual and radio warnings, Captain Jeff Davis, a Navy spokesman, told reporters at the Pentagon Monday.

The strait is a choke point for the flow of millions of barrels of Middle East oil to refineries around the world. Crude prices fell Monday, amid signs of rising supply from Iraq, Nigeria and the U.S. Iran has previously conducted naval exercises off its coast, causing uncertainty for commercial shipping that’s nearby.

The Iranian vessels approached the USS Mahan “at a high rate of speed with their weapons manned as the ship was transiting international waters in the Strait of Hormuz,” the Navy said in a statement. After the Iranians ignored “repeated warnings via radio, audible siren and ship’s whistle,” the Navy said, the Mahan’s crew fired three warning shots from a .50-caliber machine gun.

President-elect Donald Trump, who didn’t immediately comment on the latest incident, has previously vowed a more aggressive response to Iranian harassment of U.S. vessels.

“By the way, with Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people and that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water. OK?” Trump said at a campaign rally in Florida in September. “Believe me.”

Davis, the Navy spokesman, said the Iranian behavior “was somewhat out of character -- recently, anyway -- from what we’ve seen from Iran.” He said unprofessional and unsafe interactions with Iran had declined in recent months.

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