President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he had ordered the US Navy to “destroy” any Iranian gunboat that harassed US ships.
I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.
No additional clarity or guidance on such an order to the Navy has been provided.
The president’s announcement follows an incident last week in which a swarm of nearly a dozen Iranian gunboats sailed out to harass US Navy and Coast Guard vessels operating in the Persian Gulf.
US Naval Forces Central Command said last Wednesday that 11 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy boats “conducted dangerous and harassing approaches,” repeatedly crossing the bows and sterns of the US ships.
At one point, the US said, one of the Iranian boats closed to within 10 yards of a Coast Guard cutter.
The US military said that the US vessels issued multiple warnings over bridge-to-bridge radio and sounded their horns but that the Iranian boats did not respond for about an hour.
After responding, the Iranian vessels moved away from the American ships.[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e97778015ea4b7d0158d453%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=828&h=4d4b00495059bcfdf0e338bc4b5ed1fc9a15012bc44f21d23e3d65eabb5e09b6&size=980x&c=1589145471 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e97778015ea4b7d0158d453%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D828%26h%3D4d4b00495059bcfdf0e338bc4b5ed1fc9a15012bc44f21d23e3d65eabb5e09b6%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1589145471%22%7D” expand=1]
The Navy said in a statement last week that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy had committed “dangerous and provocative actions” that “increased the risk of miscalculation and collision.”
“The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision,” US Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement.
At the time of the incident, the Navy expeditionary mobile base vessel Lewis B. Puller, the destroyer Paul Hamilton, and the patrol ships Firebolt and Sirocco, together with the Coast Guard cutters Wrangell and Maui, were carrying out joint operations with Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in the Persian Gulf.
The US military, according to a separate recent statement, has been letting US Army helicopters take off from Navy ships in exercises meant to boost “the capabilities of US forces to respond to surface threats,” such as the gunboats Iran routinely sends out to harass both military and commercial vessels.
In its statement following last week’s run-in with Iranian forces, US Naval Forces Central Command concluded by saying that “US naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner, while our commanding officers retain the inherent right to act in self-defense.”
Insider reached out the Navy and US Central Command for comment but was redirected to the White House, which did not comment on the president’s tweet.