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ARLINGTON, Va. — Iranian speedboats reportedly made provocative actions toward three U.S. warships Sunday in the Strait of Hormuz.

CNN first reported Monday that five Iranian boats made aggressive moves toward the ships and sent threatening radio transmissions, including: “I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes.”

There were no injuries, but a Pentagon official said there could have been because the Iranian boats turned away “literally at the very moment that U.S. forces were preparing to open fire” in self-defense.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that the confrontation was “something normal” and was resolved. It suggested the Iranian boats had not recognized the U.S. vessels.

Pentagon officials confirmed the report later Monday and identified the three ships involved as the guided missile destroyer USS Hopper, the frigate USS Ingraham and the USS Port Royal, a guided missile cruiser.

The homeports for the Port Royal and Hopper is Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, while the Ingraham’s homeport is Everett, Wash., according to the Navy.

The incident happened about 8 a.m. local time as the U.S. ships were finishing a “routine transit” through the Strait of Hormuz, according to the Navy.

“Five boats, suspected to be from the Islamic Republic of Iran Revolutionary Guard Navy, maneuvered aggressively in close proximity of the Hopper, a Navy news release says. “Following standard procedure, Hopper issued warnings, attempted to establish communications with the small boats and conducted evasive maneuvering.”

The Iranians typically operate close to U.S. ships in the Strait of Hormuz, but in this incident the Iranian boats maneuvered aggressively, even passing between U.S. ships in the formation, a Navy official said Monday.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Iranian boats showed “reckless, dangerous and potentially hostile intent,” but he declined to provide specific information on how close the Iranian boats came to the U.S. warships and what actions they took.

Whitman also would not confirm an Associated Press report that U.S. forces were on the verge of firing on the Iranian boats.

“The U.S. Navy vessels were prepared to take appropriate actions in accordance with the ROE, but there was no engagement of the vessels,” Whitman said.

Whitman called the incident serious and said the Defense Department would work with the rest of the U.S. government on how to “proceed with respect to accountability.”

“Clearly, this is something that deserves an explanation,” he said.

The incident comes after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized eight British sailors and seven British Marines on March 23.

The British servicemembers were part of a boarding team that was investigating what was deemed to be a suspicious vessel in the Persian Gulf when they were taken into custody for allegedly crossing into Iranian waters.

They were released April 4 after supposedly confessing on Iranian television that they were operating in Iranian territorial waters.

Afterward, Adm. Mike Mullen, then chief of naval operations, told CNN he did not expect that U.S. sailors would be taken prisoner by the Iranians if they faced a similar situation.

“They have the right to engage, to shoot,” Mullen said on April 5. “And they do not have to ask permission.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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