The US Navy has prevented a support ship from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Navy from capturing an unmanned vessel operated by the US 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf.
According to a statement by US Naval Forces Central Command on Tuesday, the 5th Fleet observed an IRGC support ship, named Shahid Baziar, towing a Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel (USV) in an attempt to detain it while transiting international waters on Monday night local time, August 29.
The Navy patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt (PC 12), which was operating nearby, immediately responded and an MH-60S Sea Hawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 -- based in Bahrain was also launched, prompting the IRGC vessel to disconnect the towing line to the USV and depart the area approximately four hours later. The US Navy resumed operations without further incident, the statement added.
Describing the actions by the IRGC Navy as “flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” the commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, the 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper said, “US naval forces remain vigilant and will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows while promoting rules-based international order throughout the region.”
The statement said the Saildrone Explorer USV that the IRGC attempted to steal is a US government property and equipped with sensors, radars and cameras for navigation and data collection, the statement said, noting that this technology does not store sensitive or classified information.