Iranian boats closely shadowed an American warship in the Persian Gulf on Friday, giving wind to the potential for a new hostility between the United States and Iran.
Two fast attack boats under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps came within 300 yards of the USS Essex. The Essex was being visited by Gen. Joseph Votel, who commands U.S. forces in the Middle East. A reporter from The Iranian boats as sped near the amphibious assault ship, currently the largest U.S. ship in the Gulf.
The incident, which was not linked to the general’s visit, illustrates the delicate course the U.S. military must navigate. Since the Trump administration increases pressure on Tehran and prepares to reimpose punishing sanctions.
The Iranian boats trailed the Essex, but U.S. officials said they did not undertake the same level of threatening behavior as they have in the past.
American reports of harassment by Iran’s naval forces, sometimes even resulting in U.S. ships firing warning shots, had become common at the end of the Obama administration but had stopped in the months following President Trump’s earlier office months.
Votel, spoke to reporters who accompanied him to the Essex, saying that the Iranian activity did not rise to the level of what naval officials consider to be unsafe or unprofessional. He assured that the Essex’s crew responded in a way that minimized the risk of escalation. He also confirmed that Iran has always been a concern and hence they will always be vigilant.