A U.S. Navy boat fired warning shots at an Iranian military vessel

USS Vella Gulf.
(Image credit: RADU TUTA/AFP/Getty Images)

A U.S. Navy patrol boat crew fired two rounds of warning shots at an unidentified Iranian military boat in the Persian Gulf Tuesday after the Iranian vessel moved toward the USS Thunderbolt at an unexpectedly high speed.

The Iranian boat reportedly came within 150 yards of the American ship, apparently ignoring other warnings against collision include radio calls, whistles, and flares. The Thunderbolt crew then aimed the two rounds of machine-gun fire into the water, at which point the Iranian vessel stopped its quick movements but stayed nearby for some time.

A statement from Iran's Revolutionary Guard claims it "foiled the U.S. warship's provocative move against an Iranian Navy patrol boat in the Persian Gulf." The Thunderbolt accommodates a crew of just 27 and is used for coastal surveillance and naval blockade, like the one the United States is helping Saudi Arabia enforce on Yemen. It was accompanied by three other U.S. vessels.

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U.S. and Iranian ships have had similarly low-level conflict in the Gulf before, most notably in the 2016 incident in which 10 American sailors were briefly captured by Iran and then released.

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.