US accuses Iran of ‘dangerous’ harassment of US warships

Associated Press

Washington – A group of 11 Iranian naval vessels made “dangerous and harassing” maneuvers near U.S. ships in the North Arabian Sea on Wednesday, in one case passing within 10 yards of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, U.S. officials said.

FILE - Guided missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton is docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013.

In a written statement, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of several American ships at close range and high speed.

In the group of U.S. ships was the USS Paul Hamilton, a Navy destroyer, and the USS Lewis B. Puller, a ship that serves as an afloat landing base. The U.S. ships were operating with U.S. Army Apache attack helicopters in international waters, the statement said.

The “dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea ‘rules of the road’ or internationally recognized maritime customs, and were not in accordance with the obligation under international law to act with due regard for the safety of other vessels in the area,” the statement said.

The Americans issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices, but received no immediate response, the U.S. statement said. After about an hour, the Iranian vessels responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, then maneuvered away.