Tensions in Persian Gulf

Tension in the Persian Gulf: Iranian IRGCN vessels harassed US Coast Guard ships

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Three Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fast-attack boats and a larger support vessel swarmed and harassed the US Coast Guard cutters Monomoy and Wrangell in the Persian Gulf on April 2, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday (April 26), citing Navy officials.

According to the officials, during the incident, the large Iranian ship, known as Harth 55, a 180-foot, twin-hulled support vessel, crossed repeatedly in front of the Monomoy and the Wrangell, coming as close as 70 yards away and forcing the Wrangell to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.

The American crews sent repeated warnings via bridge-to-bridge communications, but the Iranian vessels did not alter their behavior and continued to maneuver in an unsafe manner around the two Coast Guard ships Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which oversees the region, told The Journal. The IRGC vessels finally withdrew after three hours of “unsafe and unprofessional” behavior, Rebarich said.

The last incident like this was in April 2020, when eleven IRGC Navy vessels repeatedly approached of six US Navy and Coast Guard ships at “extremely close range and high speeds”, the US Navy said in a statement at the time.

“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.”
“After approximately one hour, the IRGCN vessels responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, then manoeuvred away from the US ships and opened distance between them,” it added.

This year’s episode which hasn’t been previously disclosed, came  just as Washington and Tehran announced they would conduct negotiations toward renewing the 2015 nuclear deal,  known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The relationship between the two countries has been fraught for decades.

With reporting by The Wall Street Journal and AP