UPDATE: US ships fired to warn 13 Iranian fast boats harassing US guided missile submarines and warships

Two Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Navy (IRGCN) Fast Coastal Attack Craft (FIAC), a type of speedboat armed with machine guns, performed unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers while operating near the USCGC Maui (WPB-1304) transiting the Strait of Hormuz with other US Navy ships on May 10, 2021. US Navy Photo

This post has been updated with a statement from the US 5th Fleet.

A US Coast Guard fired two warning shots at a swarm of Iranian speedboats harassing a Navy missile submarine and other US warships entering the Persian Gulf via the Strait of Hormuz early Monday , a Pentagon spokesman told reporters this afternoon.

The 13 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) fast attack boats came within 150 meters of a group of six US surface ships that were escorting the class guided missile submarine. Ohio USS Georgia (SSGN-729), spokesman John Kirby told reporters during a press briefing.

“The fast boats performed unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers and failed to give due consideration to the safety of U.S. forces as required by international law while operating in close proximity to U.S. Navy vessels transiting the Straits of ‘Hormuz,” Kirby said.
“The boats approached the American formation at high speed closing within 150 yards. After following all proper and established procedures regarding the ships horn, bridge-to-bridge radio transmissions and other means of communication, US Coast Guard Cutter maui (WPB-1304) fired approximately 30 warning shots from a .50 caliber machine gun. After the second round of warning shots, the 13 IRGCN fast attack craft broke contact.

A Navy official told USNI News that IRGCN boats conducted a high-speed approach to the US Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61); USS patrol ships Thunderbolt (PC-12), USS hurricane (PC-3) and USS squall (PC-7); Coast Guard Patrol Boats, USCGC Wrangell (WPB-1332), maui and Georgia.

The USS Georgia (SSGN-729) transits the Gulf of Bahrain, exiting a support and logistics visit to Manama, Bahrain, Dec. 27, 2020. U.S. Army Photo

“U.S. Navy ships were escorting Georgia while the submarine was transiting on the surface. Two Iranian ships broke away from the larger group, transited to the opposite side of the American formation and approached maui and squall from behind at speeds in excess of 32 knots with their weapons uncovered and manned,” the official told USNI News.
“The remaining 11 FIACs maintain their position which placed the formation of US ships between the two Iranian groups. In order to de-escalate the situation and ensure the safety of all ships and personnel, American crews fired several warning shots at the two groups of Iranian ships…After the two IRGCN ships failed to respond to repeated warnings and approached within 300 meters, maui exercised legal de-escalation measures by firing warning shots. The two IRGCN vessels again failed to respond to warnings and closed within 150 meters of mauiAt what time maui fired additional warning shots.

The incident is the latest in a wave of harassment by the IRGCN – the sectarian military force responsible for Iran’s coastal security and the Strait of Hormuz.

On April 26, three IRGCN speedboats quickly approached the USS Firebolt (PC-10) and the United States Coast Guard patrol boat USCGC Baranoff (WPB-1318), being within 70 meters of US vessels operating in international waters, according to a statement from the US 5th Fleet at the time. The sailors fired warning shots to ward off the attacking boats.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) Harth 55, left, performed a dangerous and unprofessional action while crossing the bow of the coast guard patrol boat USCGC Monomoy (WPB-1326) on April 2 2021. US Navy Photo

In early April, three fast attack craft and an IRGCN catamaran Harth 55 harassed two cutters – USCGC Wrangell (WPB-1332) and USCGC Monomoy (WPB-1326) – over a three-hour period. Harth crossed in front of the USCGC cutter Monomoyforcing the cutter to take an evasive turn to avoid collision.

Earnest A. Martinez