WASHINGTON — A United States Coast Guard cutter fired 30 warning pictures after 13 Iranian quick patrol boats menaced a bunch of American Navy ships crusing within the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon mentioned on Monday.

The incident marked the third time in little more than a month that vessels from Iran and the USA have come dangerously shut in or close to the Persian Gulf, escalating tensions between the 2 nations as their negotiators have resumed talks toward renewing the 2015 nuclear deal.

Within the newest incident, the Coast Guard cutter Maui fired the warning pictures after the assault craft from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps “carried out unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers” whereas working shut to 6 Navy ships and one submarine crusing by means of the Strait into the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon spokesman, John F. Kirby, informed reporters.

Two Coast Guard cutters, together with the Maui, had been escorting the Navy ships by means of the relatively narrow Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf, Pentagon officers mentioned. The American vessels blew warning whistles, after which the Maui fired warning pictures from a .50 caliber machine gun because the Iranian vessels roared inside 150 yards earlier than breaking off, American officers mentioned.

After months of relative maritime calm between Iran and the USA, Tehran has stepped up aggressive habits at sea, returning to a sample that for a number of years was widespread.

On April 26, three fast-attack craft from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps sailed as shut as 68 yards to a Navy coastal patrol ship and a Coast Guard patrol boat — the Firebolt and the Baranoff — as the 2 American vessels had been patrolling worldwide waters within the northern a part of the Persian Gulf, the Navy mentioned.

On April 2, a Revolutionary Guards Corps ship, the Harth 55, accompanied by three fast-attack vessels, harassed two Coast Guard cutters, the Wrangell and the Monomoy, as they had been conducting routine safety patrols within the worldwide waters of the southern Persian Gulf, the Navy mentioned. After about three hours of the American ships issuing warnings and conducting defensive maneuvers to keep away from collisions, the Iranian vessels moved away.

That interplay was the primary “unsafe and unprofessional” episode involving Iran since April 15, 2020, mentioned Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a Fifth Fleet spokeswoman. In 2017, the Navy recorded 14 such harassing interactions with Iranian forces, in contrast with 35 in 2016 and 23 in 2015.

In 2016, Iranian forces captured and held in a single day 10 U.S. sailors who strayed into the Islamic republic’s territorial waters.

Nevertheless, such incidents had largely stopped in 2018 and for almost all of 2019, Commander Rebarich mentioned. The episodes at sea have nearly at all times concerned the Revolutionary Guards, who report solely to the supreme chief, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

American navy analysts mentioned that within the two encounters in April, the Iranian warships focused a number of the smallest and most frivolously armed Navy and Coast Guard ships within the area, indicating the Iranians maybe wished to make a press release and not using a excessive danger of getting their individuals killed.

Navy cruisers and destroyers, that are far bigger than the ships that had been harassed and carry a a lot deadlier complement of weapons, have particular 5-inch shells — developed after the lethal assault in 2000 on the destroyer Cole in Yemen — devised to take out small fast-attack craft like these from the Iranians. However the American vessels focused just lately don’t have any such weaponry aboard.