A Pentagon official confirmed reports that an Iranian rocket was fired at a range close to a U.S. warship while it was in the Persian Gulf, reported CNN.
As the USS Harry S. Truman was operating in the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian Revolutionary Guards were administering a live-fire exercise in the same location. Cmdr. Kyle Raines, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, confirmed that the incident took place on Saturday. He said that “several unguided rockets” were fired by the Iranian navy during the exercise, according to theHuffington Post.
The USS Harry S. Truman was, at the time, being escorted by two other ships through the strait. When the ship heard an announcement over maritime radio channels that the Iranian navy would be conducting rocket tests in the area, the ship stayed in an “internationally recognized maritime traffic lane” while it awaited the end of the exercise. It was confirmed that no direct communication took place between the U.S. and the Iranian navies at any time before or after any rocket was fired.
It was noted by U.S. military officials that the encounter was “uncharacteristic of most interactions” that take place between the U.S. and the Iranian navies. The officials also added that the actions taken by the Iranian navy, namely the rocket test taking place so close to the U.S. warship, were “unnecessarily provocative and unsafe.” Each rocket shot was within 1,500 yards of the U.S. aircraft carrier, but they were aimed away from any vessel in the area. Raines said that at no time did the USS Harry S. Truman wander into Iranian territory, but he clearly did not approve of the rocket testing taking place at the time and location that it did.
“Firing weapons so close to passing coalition ships and commercial traffic within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane is unsafe, unprofessional and inconsistent with international maritime law.”
NBC Newsreports that there was no acknowledgement of the incident from Iranian foreign or defense ministries, but an Iranian state-run news agency reported the occurrence. The publication noted that no ships were in any danger at any time during the operation, and every vessel in range was warned before any exercise took place. However, the warnings came only 23 minutes before the first rocket was fired.
In the past, the Strait of Hormuz has been the site of violent interactions between the U.S. and Iranian navies. In April of 1988, the U.S. “sunk or damaged” six Iranian ships and attacked two Iranian oil rigs. The incident happened as a response to an Iranian mine almost sinking USS Samuel B. Roberts.
Just a few months later in July, an Iranian commercial plane on its way to Dubai was shot down when USS Vincennes mistook it for a fighter jet. All 290 passengers and crew who were on board the aircraft were killed when it was shot down. The incident came right after the ship had been attacked by Iranian speedboats.
In recent times, rocket testing executed by the Iranian navy has been scrutinized by the U.S. In February, a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier was sunk near the strait by Iranian rocket fire.
The rocket testing comes after July’s nuclear deal with Iran. Although some were concerned that Iran wouldn’t honor its obligations, a report from NBC News confirms that it has.
“A ship carrying more than 25,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium materials left Iran for Russia on Monday in a step toward honoring Iran’s July 14 nuclear deal with major powers.”
Reports say that the USS Harry S. Truman is back in the region and supporting operations against ISIS after Saturday’s Iranian rocket fire.
[Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class M. J. Lieberknecht/U.S. Navy/AP]