The latest incident in what the U.S. Navy commander of the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush calls “school yard antics”: on Sunday, four Iranian warships advanced at high speed toward the U.S.S. Mahan, a destroyer escorting two American ships through the Straight of Hormuz, the nautical passageway between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The aggression resulted in three warning flares fired at the vessels of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard after they did not respond to radio requests to cease. A smoke float was also deployed by a helicopter.
The action from the American warship was taken after the Iranian boats came within 900 yards of the ships the Mahan was escorting. This aggression was seen just days after the Iranians conducted maneuvers drills in the Persian Gulf designed to close off the Straight to maritime traffic. The straight is a common route for oil tankers traveling to and from the Arabian Peninsula.
At this time, there are no U.S. aircraft carrier groups in the region as all have been called into port or are awaiting deployment orders. 1000 Marines, an amphibious assault ship, and assorted assets are all the United States has in that part of the world at this time.
This incident is the latest in a string of aggressive moves from the wannabe superpower. Fox News provides a list:
– In late November, an Iranian small boat in the Strait of Hormuz trained a machine gun on a U.S. Navy helicopter.
– U.S. warships have been targeted by rebels in Yemen who are being supplied and supported by Iran.
– In September, Iran threatened to shoot down Navy aircraft it said was encroaching on its airspace.
– In early September, seven Iranian boats harassed a U.S. Navy ship in the Persian Gulf.
– The first half of 2016 saw 19 “dangerous interactions” with the Iranians, according to a U.S. Navy report.
The aggression may be “school yard antics” when it comes to naval warfare, but the tensions in the Persian Gulf region are high and sooner or later this nipping at the heels as it were is going to result in a true confrontation.