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Centcom: U.S. Ship Fires Warning Shots as Iranian Vessel Makes 'Unsafe' Approach

From a U.S. Central Command News Release

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WASHINGTON, July 25, 2017 — A U.S. coastal patrol ship participating in a coalition exercise in the Persian Gulf fired warning shots today after warning an Iranian naval vessel that was conducting what U.S. Central Command officials called "an unsafe and unprofessional interaction" in international waters.

An Iranian naval vessel makes a close approach to the coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt, right, in international waters in the Persian Gulf, July 25, 2017. The Thunderbolt crew sounded warnings before firing warning shots. Navy photo
An Iranian naval vessel makes a close approach to the coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt, right, in international waters in the Persian Gulf, July 25, 2017. The Thunderbolt crew sounded warnings before firing warning shots. Navy photo
An Iranian naval vessel makes a close approach to the coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt, right, in international waters in the Persian Gulf, July 25, 2017. The Thunderbolt crew sounded warnings before firing warning shots. Navy photo Close Approach
An Iranian naval vessel makes a close approach to the coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt, right, in international waters in the Persian Gulf, July 25, 2017. The Thunderbolt crew sounded warnings before firing warning shots. Navy photo

The Iranian vessel approached within 150 yards of the coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt and did not respond to repeated attempts to establish radio communications as it approached, Centcom officials said.

Warning Flares, Danger Signal

The Thunderbolt crew then fired warning flares and sounded the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts on the ship's whistle, but the Iranian vessel continued inbound, officials said. As the Iranian vessel proceeded toward the U.S. ship, the crew again sounded five short blasts before firing warning shots in front of the Iranian vessel, they added.

The Iranian vessel halted its approach after the warning shots were fired, officials said, noting that the Iranian vessel's actions were not in accordance with internationally recognized "rules of the road," nor with internationally recognized maritime customs, thus creating a risk for collision.