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US patrol boat fires warning shots at Iranian Republican Guard vessels 

May 11, 2021 at 1:28 pm

US Coast Guard personel unload bundles of seized drugs in front of the Cutter Bertholf on September 10, 2020 in San Diego, California [SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images]

The US Coast Guard Cutter Maui fired warning shots at over a dozen Iranian vessels belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Strait of Hormuz yesterday. This is the second time within a month that the patrol boat has done so.

According to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, the Maui fired 30 warning shots due to the Iranian vessels’ unsafe behaviour when they drew unusually close at a distance of 150 yards from six US Navy ships. The Iranian boats duly pulled back.

“It’s significant,” said Kirby. “And they were acting very aggressively.”

OPINION: Is the Strait of Hormuz the key to Iran asserting its dominance?

The reason why the Iranian vessels were so close is not known, but is thought to be either a provocation against US naval presence in the strategic strait at a time of tension between Tehran and Washington or because the US ships were escorting the USS Georgia at the time; the submarine carries guided missiles.

Notably, however, one of the escort ships was the USS Monterey, which was responsible for the seizure of a massive shipment of arms bound for the Houthis in Yemen over the weekend. Although details remain unconfirmed, the arms are believed to have originated in Iran.

Tensions in the Gulf of Hormuz – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]