US Navy photos and video show Iranian ships harassing US ships

  • Iranian IRGCN ships harassed U.S. Coast Guard vessels in the Persian Gulf earlier this month.
  • The US Navy has released photos and video of the incident.
  • At one point, a large Iranian ship passed through the bow of an American ship at “unnecessarily close range”.

A US Navy video and several photos show Iranian ships harassing US Coast Guard vessels in the Persian Gulf earlier this month, the first such incident in nearly a year.

Three Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps navy fast attack boats and a larger support vessel, the Harth 55, invaded U.S. Coast Guard patrol vessels Wrangell and Monomoy during maritime security operations in international waters on April 2.

The US Navy says that during the three-hour incident, the Harth 55 “repeatedly crossed the bow of US ships at an unnecessarily close distance”, at one point within 70 meters of US ships.

A “dangerous and unprofessional” approach, as the Navy describes it, was filmed.

The The US Navy said the large Iranian ship “aggressively closed” with the Wrangell, forcing it to maneuver to avoid a collision by blowing the horn.

In addition to detonating the horn five times, the US ships also communicated by radio with the Iranian ship. The Harth 55 responded to bridge-to-bridge communications but did not change its behavior. The IRGCN ships finally pulled out after about three hours.

The Marine said that “the actions of the IRGCN were deemed dangerous and unprofessional” because “their actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision”.

The two Coast Guard ships are assigned to Patrol Forces in Southwest Asia and operate as part of US Naval Forces Central Command Task Force 55.

Another shot of the April 2 incident involving U.S. Coast Guard vessels and IRGCN vessels.

Another shot of the April 2 incident involving U.S. Coast Guard vessels and IRGCN vessels.

US Navy

The incident earlier this month is the first of its kind since April 15, 2020, meaning it is the first tense encounter between U.S. military ships and IRGCN ships of the Biden administration.

During the April 2020 incident, which lasted about an hour, 11 IRGC boats “made dangerous and harassing approaches” to US Navy and Coast Guard vessels operating in international waters . At one point, one of the Iranian boats approached within 10 meters of one of the coast guards.

The US Navy called the meeting not only “dangerous and unprofessional” but also “dangerous and provocative”.

FILE PHOTO: Four Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGCN) navy ships, some of several to maneuver in what the US Navy says is "dangerous and unprofessional actions against US military ships by crossing the bow and stern of ships at close range" is seen next to the guided missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton in the Gulf on April 15, 2020. US Navy / Handout via REUTERS

Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps navy ships alongside U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf in April 2020.


In response to the aggressive behavior, then President Donald Trump tweeted that he had ordered the US Navy to “destroy” Iranian gunboats that “harass our ships at sea.” He then doubled down at a White House press conference, saying the Navy would “pull them out of the water.” No such action has taken place.

These types of meetings with IRGCN were once quite common. In 2015, there were 23 “unsafe and unprofessional” interactions with Iranian Navy vessels. In 2016, they were 35, and in 2017, they were 14, the AP reported.

Although the IRGC’s malicious activity continued, harassment of US ships at sea ceased for a time from 2018, but has since resumed.

The The US Navy said that “the US naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner.” The service added that “commanders retain the inherent right to act in self-defense.”

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