Back on Tuesday, a US Navy patrol boat, the USS Thunderbolt, fired warning shots at an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessel that came with about 150 yards of a US Navy vessel.
According to Iran, this has happened again.
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard said Saturday a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier fired a warning shot in an “unprofessional” confrontation with Iranian vessels, the official IRNA news agency reported.
IRNA quoted a statement from the Guard as saying that the USS Nimitz and an accompanying ship came near an Iranian oil offshore platform in the Persian Gulf and a helicopter from the ship hovered near vessels manned by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard.
The report said the confrontation took place Friday afternoon and the U.S. navy ships left the area following the encounter.
The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet had no immediate comment.
I say “according to Iran” for a couple of reasons. I have a lot of doubts that the USS Nimitz fired warning shots. It could happen but aircraft carriers don’t wander about alone, they have escorts and, operating this close to Iran, they will have a continuous Combat Air Patrol. I can believe that one of Nimitz’s consorts or that one of Nimitz’s aircraft fired shots but the carrier itself? To me, this sounds more like Iran claiming that it can get very close to a US carrier in order to fluff its own naval prowess. My second doubt is based on the absence of US comment. In Tuesday’s incident, Defense was quick out of the blocks and released video. On this: crickets. No mention at all from the Navy, the Pentagon, or from CENTCOM.
If the story is true it marks a dramatic escalation of hostile acts by Iran that merited gunshots. Two of the three incidents requiring warning shots this year have happened this week. At this pace, we will have an actual close encounter of the worst kind in the Persian Gulf before the end of September…sort of when Iran will be declared to be out of compliance with the nuclear agreement.