image Commanding Officer of USS George H. W. Bush, Captain, William Pennington, speaks to media after transiting the Strait of Hormuz in this photo taken on March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed - RTX327CX

US Navy commanders: Iranian actions may lead to armed confrontation in the strait of Hormuz 

US Navy commanders accused Iran of jeopardizing international navigation by the actions of ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz and said future incidents could result in miscalculation and lead to an armed clash. The American Navy commanders spoke after the US aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush confronted what one of the commanding officers described as two sets of Iranian Navy fast-attack-boats that had approached a US-led five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait on Tuesday, on a journey from the Indian Ocean into the Gulf. 

“It is more aggressive and less predictable, and certainly the Iranian Navy has every right to come out and see who we are and query what our intentions are, that is well within their right. It is the method with which they do that that is unprofessional and adds greater risk to miscalculation, both in our need to maneuver the ship and often times that could present a risk to the merchant traffic that’s around us,” said Captain Will Pennington, Commander of USS George H.W. Bush 

It was the first time a US carrier entered the narrow waterway, where up to 30 percent of global oil exports pass annually, since President Donald Trump took office in January pledging a tougher US stance towards Iran. Nevertheless, Captain Pennington stressed that no new instructions have been received from Washington. 

“So while there may be some change forthcoming because of different views of the elected officials, we have received none of that now. We are just operating per the normal training and procedures that had become navy standard over the last couple of years,” said Pennington.

Tuesday’s incident, in which the George H.W. Bush sent helicopter gunships to hover over the Iranian speedboats as some came as close as 870 meters away, which is equal to some 950 yards from the aircraft carrier, ended without a shot being fired. But it underscored growing tension between the United States and Iran since the election of Trump, who has condemned the 2015 nuclear deal that his predecessor Barack Obama and leaders of five other world powers struck with Tehran and labelled the Islamic Republic “the number one terrorist state.” There was no immediate comment from Tehran.