Iran ships make 'harassing' maneuvers at US ships

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A statement from the US Navy's 5th Fleet says that 11 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessels came very close to the US Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Persian Gulf and zipped around at high speeds, coming within 10 yards of the UCG cutter Maui's bow, per Fox News.

"The US crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships' horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices, but received no response from the IRGCN".

The United States Navy has accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps of threatening and "unsafe" actions, stating that IRGC vessels approached American warships conducting "maritime security" operations in the Persian Gulf. The Navy also conducted operations with an Air Force special operations gunship last month as part of stepped up US and allied efforts to deter what American officials have said are mounting Iranian threats in the region.

The Iranian sailors only responded to bridge-to-bridge radio contacts after an hour of manoeuvring, and then moved away. The expeditionary mobile sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) is conducting joint interoperability operations in support of maritime security in the US 5th Fleet area of operations. There was no official statement from Iranian authorities.

The US Navy said such "dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision", and were not in accordance with worldwide maritime conventions or customs.

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Tensions between the IRGC and the USA have been high in the region since President Donald Trump authorized a strike that took out the US -designated terrorist organization's leader Gen. Qasem Soleimani as retribution for past Iranian aggressions worldwide.

Iranian officials did not immediately acknowledge the incident, which comes after armed men - also believed to be from Iran's Revolutionary Guard - seized a Hong Kong-flagged tanker on Tuesday before later releasing the vessel. Tehran, however, sees the ever-expanding presence as provocative and threatening, and merely as a way for the USA to enforce its "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign, which seeks to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero.

Soleimani was killed on January 2 by a USA airstrike near Baghdad's global airport, under orders from President Donald Trump following attacks on an Iraqi military base housing coalition counter-terrorism forces.

He added that "if that happens, Iran will pay a heavy price".

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