A US Navy warship fired warning shots at group of Iranian boats approaching at speed, officials have disclosed.
The incident, as described to news agency Reuters, occurred in the Strait of Hormuz. Those behind this disclosure did not wish to be identified but provided a fair amount of information concerning the encounter: just the most recent of numerous US-Iranian naval meetings of late.
The officials described how four vessels operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps closed-in on the USS Mahan destroyer. The USS Mahan had already entered dialogue with the Iranian speedboats and requested that they decelerate. The oncoming traffic did not slow down as asked but, instead, threw questions the USS Mahan’s way. Initially, warning flares were released in an attempt to achieve resolution. Then came the warning shots – three of them. Minimum separation between the destroyer and the speedboats was a reported 900 yards.
This wasn’t the past weekend’s sole US/Iranian naval interaction, one official commented, but certainly its most serious. It came shortly ahead of US President-elect Donald Trump’s occupancy of office, starting on 20 January. Trump had previously asserted that any Iranian vessels bothering Gulf-deployed US Navy assets would be “shot out of the water.”
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was established in 1979 and combining its airmen, ground troops and naval personnel, employs around 125,000 people. Its naval element (formally the ‘Navy of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution’) has more than 50 boats in service including Thondar class missile boats, Boghammer patrol boats and torpedo-armed Tir II fast attack craft.
USS Mahan Destroyer
The USS Mahan (DDG-72) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that’s equipped the US Navy since the late 1990s. Crewed by around 280 navy personnel, it’s 505 feet long and has a 66-foot-wide beam. Power is provided by four General Electric LM2500 gas turbines generating 25,000 shaft hp each. These help give the USS Mahan a top speed of some 30 knots and a range of 4,400 nautical miles.
This warship is equipped with numerous radars and armed with Raytheon RIM-67 SM-2, RIM-161 SM-3 and BGM-109 Tomahawk or Lockheed Martin RUM-139 VL-ASROC vertically-launched missiles: other USS Mahan weapons include a 25mm chain gun and four .50 calibre 12.77mm guns. The destroyer also has the capacity to deploy with a pair of Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multimission maritime helicopters embarked.
The USS Mahan’s present commanding officer is Captain Marc E Davis and, alongside the USS Laboon, USS Cole, USS James E Williams and USS Truxton, it’s part of the US Navy’s Destroyer Squadron 22 (‘DESRON 22’). Established in the immediate post-war years, DESRON 22 has many frontline deployments behind it including participation in operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom. The squadron’s motto is ‘Facta Non Verba’ (‘Deeds, Not Words’).
USS Mahan image copyright US Navy – courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Destroyer Squadron 22 seal image copyright US Navy – courtesy Wikimedia Commons