A week after Iranian gunboats harassed U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf, President Donald Trump sent a warning that the next gunboat to do that will be sunk.
“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020
“On April 15, eleven Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches of the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Firebolt (PC 10), USS Sirocco (PC 6), USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) and USCGC Maui (WPB 1304) while the U.S. vessels were conducting joint integration operations with U.S. Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in the international waters of the North Arabian Gulf,” the release said.
“The IRGCN vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the U.S. vessels at extremely close range and high speeds, including multiple crossings of the Puller with a 50 yard closest point of approach (CPA) and within 10 yards of Maui’s bow,” it said.
“The U.S. 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. After approximately one hour, the IRGCN vessels responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, then maneuvered away from the U.S. ships and opened distance between them,” the release said.
The Navy also shared a video and images of the encounter.
Initial assessments indicate #IRGCN vessels’ closest points of approach were 50 yards from #USSLewisBPuller & 10 yards from @USCG #Maui. There were no injuries during the interaction. pic.twitter.com/AYzEXHZPZZ
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) April 15, 2020
Rear Adm. Alireza Tangsiri, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard navy, blamed the United States for the incident.
“[C]ontrary to international regulations, the Americans blocked the way for our vessels and refused to respond to the radio, which was met with a powerful confrontation by our forces,” he said, according to Newsweek.
Tangsiri said Monday that Iran has bolstered its weaponry, including “a variety of surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 700 km produced domestically.” That distance equates to roughly 430 miles.
He also claimed new Iranian gunboats are “three times faster than American vessels.”
“Wherever the Americans have been present, insecurity has arisen, and we do not know where the presence of the United States has led to security,” Tangsiri said.
On Monday, Iran reported that it had launched its first military satellite into orbit, according to Reuters.
Earlier this month, Trump warned that Iran was plotting to attack American troops.
Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2020
“To achieve its goals, Iran continues to rely on its unconventional warfare elements and asymmetric capabilities — intended to exploit the perceived weaknesses of a superior adversary — to provide deterrence and project power,” the DIA report said. “This combination of lethal conventional capabilities and proxy forces poses a persistent threat. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force leads Iranian power projection through a complex network of state and non-state partners and militant proxies.”
The report said, “Iran’s conventional military emphasizes niche capabilities and guerilla-style tactics against its technologically advanced adversaries. Its substantial arsenal of ballistic missiles is designed to overwhelm U.S. forces and our partners in the region. Its swarms of small boats, large inventory of naval mines, and arsenal of anti-ship missiles can severely disrupt maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz—a strategic chokepoint critical to global trade. Each of these forces are becoming increasingly survivable, precise, and responsive.”
In addressing the capabilities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy’s flotilla of small craft, the report said, “Used en masse, these vessels can harass merchant shipping and conduct swarm tactics during a force-on-force naval engagements.”
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