US Navy Fires Warning Flare at Iran Vessel in Persian Gulf

An American destroyer was forced to alter its course when approached in an "unprofessional" and "provocative" manner by a vessel belonging to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard in the Persian Gulf on Monday.

The Persian Gulf has been heating up as the American and Iranian navies battle for dominance over the strait.

Chernitzer said the Iranian vessel came within 1,100 yards (1,005 metres) of the destroyer, prompting the US Navy to issue warning messages, twice blast the internationally recognised five-whistle danger signal and deploy "a flare to determine the Iranian vessel's intentions".

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This is a developing story. The vessel later turned and sailed away.

At the time, the destroyer fired three warning shots at armed Iranian patrol boats that were speeding toward the American warship at the entrance to the Persian Gulf after the Iranian vessels ignored multiple warning attempts by the Mahan crew.

In January, the USS Mahan fired warning shots at Iranian vessels after they came "within 900 yards or so" of the USA destroyer, according to Pentagon officials.

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The close encounter comes after USA secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, slammed Iran for its nuclear weapons programme. The Navy recorded 35 instances of what it describes as "unsafe and/or unprofessional" interactions with Iranians forces in 2016, compared to 23 in 2015.

Iranian authorities did not immediately report the incident, but Iran's foreign minister appeared to reference it in a tweet Wednesday. Including the latest incident on Monday, there have been seven so far in 2017, Lt McConnaughey said.

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