USA President Donald Trump on Wednesday (22 April, 2020) said that he has instructed the U.S. Navy to 'shoot down and destroy' Iranian vessels that harass American ships at sea.
'I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea', the President tweeted. The announcement was made one week after the encounter happened. ‘Six U.S. Navy warships were conducting drills with US Army Apache attack helicopters in international waters off Iran last Wednesday when they were repeatedly harassed by 11 ‘Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Navy’ vessels’, the 5th Fleet of U.S. Navy reported.
‘The Iranian ships repeatedly crossed in front and behind the U.S. vessels at extremely close range and high speeds, including multiple crossings of one ship, the Puller, with a 50-yard closest point of approach and within 10 yards of another ship, the Maui's bow’, another 5th Fleet statement stated.
During the encounter with the Iranian Gunboats, the US vessels’ crew issued multiple warnings through bridge-to-bridge radio as well as using their horns. There was no response from the Iranian boats for about an hour. Finally, after several attempts, the Gunboats moved away from the US ships.
No shots were fired but the ‘dangerous and provocative actions’ used by the Iranian boats risked collision or worse.
The tensions between Iran and the United States increased earlier this year after the United States killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in a drone strike which happened in Iraq. Iran retaliated on 8 January this year with a rocket attack on Iraq’s Ain al-Asad base where U.S. forces were stationed. It was reported that no U.S. troops were killed or faced immediate bodily injury, but more than 100 were later diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.
The frustrations between the both countries might increase due to Coronavirus pandemic. The widespread of this epidemic has caused an Economic slowdown in American markets and any kind of hamper in Oil supplies would result only escalation.