Video: Iran's Attempt to Capture American Navy Vessel Foiled When the USS Thunderbolt Emerges


Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf tried to capture an unmanned surface vessel operated by the U.S. Navy this week, but the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy was stopped by the American 5th Fleet.

While traveling through international waters in the region, known to some countries as the Arabian Gulf, at about 11 p.m. local time Monday, U.S. forces saw the Shahid Baziar, an IRGCN ship, towing a Saildrone Explorer. Iran’s navy was attempting to detain the U.S.-operated vessel, the Pentagon’s Defense Visual Information Distribution Service reported.

The USS Thunderbolt, a Navy patrol coastal ship, was nearby and immediately responded to the incident.

The U.S. 5th Fleet also launched a helicopter from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, based in Bahrain, according to DIVDS.

Once the U.S. naval forces responded, the IRGCN vessel eventually disconnected the towing line and left the area four hours later, the DVIDS reported.

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Unmanned vessels are an important part of the Navy’s arsenal, according to DVIDS.

“The integration of unmanned systems and artificial intelligence into fleet operations enhances maritime vigilance for U.S. forces and international partners in waters across the Middle East,” DVIDS reported.

The Navy released a video Tuesday showing the Shahid Baziar towing the unmanned vessel before the USS Thunderbolt intervened.

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U.S. Central Command published the video in a Twitter post, along with statements concerning the incident.

“Here is a video showing support ship Shahid Baziar, from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy unlawfully towing a U.S. Saildrone Explorer unmanned vessel in international waters of the Arabian Gulf, Aug. 30,” Central Command tweeted.

U.S. Central Command also noted how this was just one more instance of Iran trying to instigate instability in the region.

“The professionalism and competence of the crew of the USS Thunderbolt prevented Iran from this illegal action. This incident once again demonstrates Iran’s continued destabilizing, illegal, and unprofessional activity in the Middle East,” a statement from the CENTCOM commander Gen. Michel “Erik” Kurilla read.

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In an official statement, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, also addressed the incident, pointing out the inappropriate boldness of the Iranian Navy.

“IRGCN’s actions were flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” Cooper said, DVIDS reported.  “U.S. naval forces remain vigilant and will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows while promoting rules-based international order throughout the region.”

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