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U.S. Navy Ship Fires Warning Shots Near Iranian Vessel In Persian Gulf

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military says a U.S. Navy patrol boat fired warning shots toward an Iranian Navy ship in the northern part of the Persian Gulf on July 25 after the Iranian vessel came within 140 meters of the U.S. ship.

U.S. Central Command said the USS Thunderbolt fired the warning shots after attempts to communicate by radio were ignored by the Iranian vessel.

It said the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) ship conducted "an unsafe and unprofessional interaction" in international waters, and that it also ignored warning sirens and flares fired from the USS Thunderbolt.

A U.S. defense official said it was out of the norm for an Iranian military ship to come in that close at that rate of speed.

He said the U.S. ship had to act for the safety of the crew."

U.S. Central Command said the Iranian vessel halted its approach after the warning shots were fired.

It said the Iranian vessel's actions "were not in accordance with internationally recognized 'rules of the road,' nor with internationally recognized maritime customs -- thus creating a risk for collision.

The USS Thunderbolt. a Cyclone-class patrol ship, has been taking part in a live fire and formation training exercise in the Gulf during the past week with other U.S. Navy vessels and military ships from Persian Gulf states that are U.S. allies.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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