US, British vessels change course after fast approach from Iranian boats

Stand offs between U.S. ships and Iranian vessels have become a regular occurrence on the Strait of Hormuz, which is a narrow passage that leads from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea.

Three Royal Navy ships were forced to change their course after they were "unsafely" approached by Iranian vessels, officials say.

Reuters reported the Revolutionary guard vessels sailed within 600 yards of the USNS Invincible tracking ship.

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The incident was "unsafe and unprofessional", the official told Reuters.

The IRGC did not comment on the latest episode, but Iran mantains that under global law it has the right to protect security in the Strait. The Saturday incident was also more worrying as it involved the elite Revolutionary Guard unit.

"Well I don't know how much of a pattern it is, we actually had seen quite an improvement in Iran's behavior until recently", Capt. Davis told reporters.

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In November, a small Iranian vessel allegedly pointed a gun at a US Navy helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz, in global waters, according to the Pentagon.

Long-term tensions between Washington and Tehran were reduced when the USA and several world powers agreed to end sanctions on Iran after an agreement to rein in the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions was signed. The second test successfully struck a floating barge at a range of 155 miles, a targeting capability that Iran's military has reportedly improved by fitting the missiles with a new "active seeker". The gulf separates Oman from southeastern Iran.

"This was assessed to be a combination of unsafe or unprofessional behaviour", Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said. In January, a U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mahan fired several warning shots at Iranian patrol boats that came toward it in the Strait of Hormuz.

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