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Iran Warns US Warship Transiting Strait of Hormuz

By Nigar Bayramli August 21, 2023

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An MV-22B Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 162 (reinforced), departs the flight deck aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) on July 24, 2023. / US Navy Photo

Iranian naval forces have issued a warning to an American warship as it was traversing the Strait of Hormuz.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said in a meeting with high-ranking officials and commanders of the IRGC on August 19 that the Americans had been "forced" to land a helicopter that took off from an aircraft carrier, according to Iran’s IRIB News Agency.

Tangsiri said that the Zolfaqar naval brigade, in charge of controlling the Strait of Hormuz, issued the warning.

The IRIB website showed the USS Bataan (LHD-5) and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) and the moment Iranian speedboats approached them on August 17. An exchange of radio messages between the two parties was also recorded.

According to the US-based USNI News, both ships, part of the three-ship, 4,000-member Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, left Norfolk, Virginia, on July 10 as a crisis-response force for US Naval Forces Europe, and were carrying elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Tangsiri underlined that Iran and other countries in the region are capable of establishing peace and security in the Gulf and outsider presence was not needed.

He called the action against the American force "an intelligent interception and authoritative presence on the part of Iranians”.

"The courageous IRGC Navy will not allow this strategic region to once again become the den of enemies," he said.

Meanwhile, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig-Gen Pat Ryder declined to say whether the recent addition of the US forces to the region has deterred Iran’s malignant maritime moves.

“Our hope would be that the trend will downward,” Ryder said, and added that “but ultimately that’s up to Iran. In the meantime, we’re going to do everything we can to ensure the safety and security in the region and the continued ability of commerce to transit the Strait of Hormuz unimpeded”.

The incident occurred while the US is boosting its military presence in the Gulf, one of the world's most important shipping routes, in response to Iran’s continued threats and attempted seizures of commercial vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz.

According to the US Navy, Iran has harassed, attacked or seized nearly 20 internationally flagged merchant vessels in the Gulf region since 2021.

The US has strengthened the layered defense in the region that includes additional aircraft — including F-16 and F-35 fighter jets, air and surface drones and other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets.

However, on July 19, Iran's Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani dismissed the significance of the US deployment of advanced warplanes and a destroyer to the Gulf, saying "America is doing its own thing but Iran is fundamentally at a stage of strength and authority that nobody can threaten it," 

The US Navy said on July 5 that it had prevented an Iranian attempt to seize two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, through which around a fifth of the world's oil passes. Iran stated later that it had a court order to seize a tanker owned by the US oil giant Chevron for allegedly colliding with an Iranian vessel and leaving the scene.