Iran Accuses U.S. of 'Unprofessional Behavior' After Navy Fires Warning Shots at Revolutionary Guard

Iran accused the U.S. of "unprofessional behavior" on Tuesday after American officials said 13 Iran Revolutionary Guard speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz came close to Navy ships on Monday, prompting a Coast Guard cutter to fire warning shots.

A statement from the Revolutionary Guard said Americans were employing "false narratives" about the encounter and that the U.S. should "abide by international regulations" and added that the Guard warned the U.S. Navy ships to cease "provocative and aimless shooting."

"Sadly, harassment by the IRGC Navy is not a new phenomenon," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. "It is something that all of our commanding officers and the crews of our vessels are trained for. This activity is the kind of activity that could lead to somebody getting hurt and could lead to a real miscalculation there in the region, and that doesn't serve anybody's interests."

The U.S. said a cutter fired warning shots when two of the Iranian boats came dangerously close.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

U.S. Navy and Iran Encounter
An Iranian Revolutionary Guard fast in-shore attack craft, a type of speedboat armed with machine guns, speeds near U.S. naval vessels in the Strait of Hormuz on May 10, 2021, in this image provided by the U.S. Navy. Iran called the U.S. "unprofessional" on Tuesday after a Coast Guard cutter fired warning shots at Revolutionary Guard vessels. Uncredited/U.S. Navy via AP

The exchange comes as the United States and Iran engage in indirect talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the United States left in 2018.

Kirby declined to comment when asked about the Iranians' intentions.

It was the second time in two weeks that a U.S. ship opened fire to warn Iranian vessels.

On April 26, an American warship fired warning shots when Revolutionary Guard vessels came too close to a patrol in the Persian Gulf. The Navy released black-and-white footage of that encounter in international waters of the northern reaches of the gulf near Kuwait, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

In the latest incident, Kirby said 13 Iranian vessels maneuvered at high speed toward six Navy ships that were escorting the guided missile submarine USS Georgia through the Strait on Monday. The sub was sailing on the surface.

The six Navy escort ships included the guided missile cruiser USS Monterey. A day earlier, the Monterey had intercepted an arms shipment aboard a dhow in the Arabian Sea apparently headed for Yemen, whose Houthi rebels are supported by Iran.

"They were acting very aggressively," Kirby said of the Iranian boats.

At one point, two of the Iranian boats broke away from the others and positioned themselves on the other side of the U.S. ship formation. The two then sped toward some of the U.S. ships. In an attempt to de-escalate the situation, U.S. crews issued multiple warnings to both groups of Iranian boats, including repeated bridge-to-bridge verbal warnings, said Navy Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a Navy 5th Fleet spokesperson.

After the two Iranian boats failed to respond to the multiple warnings and closed to within 300 yards, the Coast Guard cutter Maui fired a volley of warning shots from its .50-caliber machine gun. It fired another volley when the Iranian boats got within 150 yards.

The two Iranian boats then "altered course and increased their distance from the U.S. forces," Rebarich said.

Iran regularly rejects the U.S. Navy's claims with regard to similar incidents.

Coast Guard Cutter
Iran called the U.S. "unprofessional" on Tuesday after a U.S. Navy Coast Guard cutter fired warning shots at ships of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Above, the Coast Guard Cutter James is seen before approximately 27,300 pounds of cocaine and 11,000 pounds marijuana is offloaded at Port Everglades on October 28, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images