The Iranian paramilitary guard attempted to seize a U.S. sea drone in the Persian Gulf Monday, but the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet frightened off the Iranian ships and regained control of the unmanned vehicle early Tuesday morning.
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy’s Shahid Baziar warship attached a towing line to the Saildrone Explorer, operating in the Persian Gulf’s international waters, at 11 p.m. Monday local time, according to the 5th Fleet. A nearby U.S. naval vessel and helicopter squadron based in Bahrain dispatched to the area, shadowing the Iranian warship for roughly four hours until the Shahid Baziar disconnected from the drone and departed without incident.
The IRGC Navy’s “actions were flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said. “U.S. naval forces remain vigilant and will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows while promoting rules-based international order throughout the region.”
The drone operates commercial sensors, radars and camera equipment for data collection and “does not store sensitive or classified information,” according to the 5th Fleet. It is part of a drone task force launched in 2021 to surveil the Persian Gulf amid increased military tensions with Iran in the maritime space, the AP reported.
“Our response was one that as such made clear that this was U.S. government property and was operating in international waters and that we had every intention to take action if necessary,” 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins told The Associated Press.
The Navy notified the Shahid Baziar by radio that the confiscated equipment belonged to the U.S., Hawkins told the AP.
The IRGC did not immediately acknowledge the incident, the AP reported.
Iran has seized nonmilitary vessels transiting the Gulf, including hijacking a British-flagged oil tanker and briefly detaining a Panamanian vessel in 2021.
The Iranian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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