US military vessels will take “lawful defensive measures” against ships that would come closer that 100 yards (about 91 meters), warns a new notice to mariners, according to reports by Reuters and AP.
The usual actions taken in case of a close encounter involve turning the ship away from the approaching vessel, sounding a horn and shooting off flares before firing even warning shots.
Yet, in a fairly uncommon practice, the US Navy apparently signals it might be ready to take some more drastic measures if its latest warning is ignored.
“Our ships are conducting routine operations in international waters wherever international law allows and do not seek conflict,” said Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said, as cited by AP. “However, our commanding officers retain the right to self-defense if deemed necessary.”
The US Navy did not mention any specific nation in its warning, but it appears to be directed at Iran, given that Washington has accused Tehran of “harassing” its ships in the Gulf recently.
President Donald Trump threatened to shoot Iranian military vessels “out of the water” in late April, following what Washington called harassment of US naval forces currently deployed in the Persian Gulf by the Iranian Navy.
The Pentagon claimed 11 boats of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) conducted “dangerous and harassing” maneuvers near six US ships that conducted drills with army attack helicopters in “international waters” of the Gulf.
At that time, Iranian ships sailed as close as nine meters away from one of the American warships, the US Department of Defense said.
Tehran dismissed all the US accusations as “false and fake stories,” arguing that it was the US that failed to follow maritime regulations in the Persian Gulf. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Major-General Hossein Salami later said that he ordered the nation’s naval forces to destroy any American warship threatening the security of Iranian vessels.