Troubling news from the Persian Gulf: In the midst of the second such incident this week, a U.S. Navy warship was forced to fire three warning shots Wednesday at an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boat closing at high speed.
At one point, the Iranian boat came within 200 yards of one of the US Navy boats. When it failed to leave the area after the Navy had fired flares and had a radio conversation with the Iranian crew, the US officials said, the USS Squall fired three warning shots. Following standard maritime procedures, the Navy fired the three shots into the water to ensure the Iranians understood they needed to leave the immediate area.
In a separate incident Tuesday, the guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze was shadowed and harassed by four Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrol craft near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow bottleneck entrance to the Persian Gulf. No shots were reported to have been fired.
U.S. Navy officials called Tuesday’s “high-seed intercept” of the Nitze in international waters “unsafe and unprofessional,” but Wednesday’s situation was clearly a significant escalation. The episodes follow months of increasing tensions between the U.S. Navy and the Iranians in the Persian Gulf. In January, ten U.S. sailors, along with their two patrol boats, were taken prisoner by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.