Earlier this week, the USS Nitze, while in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, experienced four Iranian vessels on a high-speed intercept approach, crossing each other’s paths as they grew closer. Nitze had all eyes on these ships and it was officially observed and reported that the Iranian vessels’ weapons were “uncovered, manned.” The Nitze, abiding by maritime rules, fired flares and blasted the ship’s horn five times in succession, in an effort to communicate that a collision was imminent. The Iranian ships finally turned away after the flares were fired.
The next day, an Iranian ship came within 200 yards of the USS Tempest and the USS Squall, while the Tempest attempted to hail the vessel with twelve bridge-to-bridge calls; it finally fired its warning flares. At the same time, the USS Squall fired its .50-caliber gun into the sea, all before the Iranian vessel finally turned away.
That same vessel later crossed in front of the USS Stout three times at high speed, before the guided missile destroyer employed maneuvers to avoid a collision.
So, what is it that Iran is trying to say?
That they are a force in the Middle East?
That they are not afraid to kick sand?
That they are not afraid to provoke us?
They have repeatedly stated that they could close the Strait of Hormuz, which at its narrowest is 30 miles wide, at any time, choking of the flow of one-fifth of the world’s oil from that region. Could they pull that off? Extremely doubtful.
Iran has always had an inflated perception of their seat at the international table (hence, their unending quest for nuclear capabilities). These actions this past week in the Strait of Hormuz was simply a “hey-look-at-me” … they knew no U.S. Naval ship would engage without their Commander-in-Chief’s green light … so, it was just an opportunity to show the world that their seat, while occupied, is not a “forgotten seat” at the international table.