The U.S. Navy said Iranian vessels harassed its Coast Guard ships in the Persian Gulf earlier this month.
On April 2, an Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) Harth 55, accompanied by three fast attack craft (FAC)/fast inshore attack craft (FIAC), approached U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) and USCGC Monomoy (WPB 1326) while the U.S. vessels were conducting routine maritime security patrols in the international waters of the southern Arabian Gulf, the service said in a statement.
The Harth 55 allegedly repeatedly crossed the bows of the U.S. vessels at an unnecessarily close range, including crossings both Wrangell and Monomoy's bows at a 70 yard closest point of approach (CPA). The ship closed aggressively on Wrangell's bow, resulting in Wrangell maneuvering to avoid collision while sounding five short blasts from the ship's horn.
The U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships' horns, and while the Harth 55 responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, they continued the unsafe maneuvers.
After approximately three hour of the U.S. issuing warning and conducting defensive maneuvers, the IRGCN vessels maneuvered away from the U.S. ships and opened distance between them.
The IRGCN's actions were deemed unsafe and unprofessional. Their 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 (COLREGS) "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 Navy said.
The USCGC ships are assigned to Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the largest U.S. Coast Guard unit outside the United States, and operate under U.S. Naval Forces Central Command's Task Force 55.
In April 2020, the U.S. Navy had accused eleven IRGC Navy vessels of “repeatedly” conducting “dangerous and harassing approaches” of its warships involved in a military exercise with the Army’s AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in the international waters of the North Arabian Gulf.