A troubling confrontation in the Persian Gulf:

The U.S. military reported Monday on a “significant” confrontation involving five Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats that “harrassed and provoked” three U.S. naval ships in international waters over the weekend.

U.S. military officials said the incident occurred Saturday night in the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow shipping channel leading in and out of the Persian Gulf.

The five Iranian ships made “threatening” moves — in one case coming within 200 yards of a U.S. ship, the U.S. officials said.
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In one radio transmission, the Iranians told the U.S. Navy: “I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes,” the U.S. military officials told CNN.

When the U.S. ships heard that radio transmission, they manned their gun positions and officers were “in the process” of giving the order to fire when the Iranians abruptly turned away, the U.S. officials said.

No shots were fired and no one was injured in the confrontation.

I’d say that they were probing our defenses. The Iranians are not going to attack us directly, they’re not that stupid, but the information gathered in this exercise could be passed on to Iranian state sponsored terrorists or used in retaliatory strikes if we launch an air campaign. It’s the radio transmission that I find really odd here. We’ve had problems with these boats before but I’ve never heard of a case where the Iranians verbally threatened to attack.

Update 1/9/2007:
Mike Nizza of The Lede links to Navy video of the event and a transcript. While it’s helpful to see supporting evidence I should make it clear that I wasn’t expressing doubts about the Navy’s report in my initial post. I’m just really surprised by the hostile radio exchange.


  1. Bill Price

    The Revolutionary Guard’s patrol vessels are equipped with C-801 antiship missiles (Exocet equivalents, 22 miles range) or c-802 missiles (Harpoon equivalent, 103 miles range). If they had wanted to hit the U.S. warships in question, 500 yards and some explosives dropped in the water would not have been the weapon of choice.

  2. Josh

    What would Iran stand to gain by attacking the US? Nothing is what, it would be suicide. They are not that stupid. Gathering intelligence maybe most likely but I am disturbed by the radio transmission as well. Lucitania, Gulf of Tonkin, and USS Liberty come to mind here. Iran doesn’t even have anything to gain by provoking the US right now. Comes at a time when the primaries are now in full swing, neocons without a clear canidate, need something to garner domestic support. Ask lots of questions people, especially with this administration.

  3. pouri

    It is all staged. Just listen to the voice of the Iranians threatening the US ships, it is comic. I suggest the pentagon hire a more sophisticated Hollywood producer to produce such tapes. This is the funniest and most stupid and desperate attempt by Bush and his cabinet. It is pethetic at best.

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