US President Donald Trump yesterday instructed the US Navy to "shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats" that harass American ships.
"I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea," Trump wrote on Twitter.
Later yesterday, Deputy Defence Secretary David Norquist told reporters that "the President issued an important warning to the Iranians. What he was emphasizing is all of our ships retain the right of self-defense and people need to be very careful in their interactions to understand the inherent right of self-defense."
Last week, the US Navy said Iranian warships repeatedly conducted "dangerous and harassing approaches" toward American vessels in the Gulf.
The navy said in a statement that one Iranian vessel came within 50 metres of colliding with a US ship.
The Navy released photos and a video which it said document the incident.