Iranian navy gunboats harassed U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday. The Iranian vessels repeatedly approached U.S. ships very closely in an aggressive manner in the international waters of the northern Persian Gulf.

This is just the latest incident in the tension between the two countries. In the past year, Iranian-led militias had continuously been firing rockets at American bases in Iraq and Syria. This led to the U.S. conducting an airstrike that killed the Iranian commander of the Quds Force Major General Soleimani. The Iranians retaliated with attacks on the U.S. Embassy and further rocket attacks on U.S. bases. In early March, U.S. and coalition aircraft pounded Iranian-led Kataib Hezbollah militia units. Since then, relative quiet had followed, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic which has struck both countries… until now.

In this latest incident, eleven Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) small gunboats repeatedly approached the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Firebolt (PC 10), USS Sirocco (PC 6), USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332), and USCGC Maui (WPB 1304).

The Iranian gunboats kept crossing the bows and sterns of the American ships at extremely close range and high speeds, including multiple crossings of the Puller within 50 yards and within 10 yards of Maui’s bow.

The U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio and by blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices but received no response from the Iranians.

After approximately one hour, the IRGCN vessels responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, then maneuvered away from the U.S. ships and opened the distance between them.

The American ships were sailing in international waters in the North Arabian Gulf and were conducting joint operations with U.S. Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. (The U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and Army have been conducting joint interoperability operations in the North Arabian Gulf since late March.)

The U.S. Navy statement released read,