US accuses Iranian boat of using spotlight to blind the bridge crews of two Navy ships in Strait of Hormuz
Stars and Stripes December 6, 2022
An Iranian patrol boat on Monday flashed its spotlight at the bridges of two Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz, which U.S. military officials said blinded the crews and created an “unsafe and unprofessional” incident, according to a U.S. Central Command statement.
A patrol boat of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy approached the USS Lewis B. Puller, an expeditionary sea base platform ship, and the USS The Sullivans guided-missile destroyer Monday evening as the U.S. ships conducted a routine transit in international waters, according to the CENTCOM statement issued Tuesday. That’s when the patrol boat flashed its spotlight at the bridges of both ships.
The IRGC Navy boat then crossed in front of the two ships within about 150 yards, which CENTCOM described as “dangerously close — especially at night.” The IRGC Navy is an elite military unit in Iran that is closely tied to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
“This dangerous action in international waters is indicative of Iran’s destabilizing activity across the Middle East,” Army Col. Joe Buccino, a CENTCOM spokesman, said in the statement.
Buccino said the American ships were able to escape the incident without further escalation after issuing an audible warning and using nonlethal lasers. He said the Iranian boat’s actions violated international maritime standards and risked “miscalculation and collision.”
Interactions between U.S. Navy ships and Iranian navy vessels are fairly routine in the Strait of Hormuz, which links the Persian Gulf with the Sea of Oman between Oman and Iran. U.S. military officials have long accused IRGC Navy vessels of conducting unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers when interacting with American ships.
CENTCOM officials in recent years have labeled Iran the largest threat to U.S. troops and American interests in the Middle East. U.S. officials have long accused Iran and the militias that it controls in Iraq and Syria of targeting U.S. troops and working to undermine American allies throughout the region.