An incident allegedly occurred in the Strait of Hormuz on March 6th between a US naval vessel and several Iranian patrol boats (or “fast attack” boats – in case you need help deciding the aggressor).
Here’s the account from Reuters, citing the US Navy:
Multiple fast-attack vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, forcing it to change direction, a U.S. official told Reuters on Monday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the boats came within 600 yards (meters) of the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship, and stopped. The Invincible and three ships from the British Royal Navy accompanying it had to change course.
Now granted, if the Iranian boats did behave recklessly and endanger the safety of the US or British vessels, they should not get a free pass. The Strait of Hormuz is an international waterway, but it is also within the territorial waters of Iran (and Oman). Not being an expert on the law of the sea, I can’t say if Iran has a right to inspect vessels moving through its waters, but it seems reasonable.
Nevertheless, the question poses itself: why are US military vessels aggressively patrolling just miles from Iran’s shores? They will perhaps make the claim they are protecting the international oil trade, but there is no evidence the sea traffic in that area is endangered – certainly not by Iran, which has plenty of its own oil to sell.
goddamn Iranians, going out of their way to menace American Navy ships. pic.twitter.com/OFvD6CeIoZ
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) March 6, 2017
Anyway, the United States has little to fear from Iran, since it has not attacked another country since 1826. One can’t exactly say the same for the United States.
To avoid answering the question why they are aggressively patrolling the Persian Gulf (Iran was historically known as Persia), including the congested Hormuz Strait, the US Navy has decided to unilaterally rename an international body of water, calling it the Arabian Gulf in a nod to America’s loyal allies, the medieval despots of the Gulf Arab states.
The name Persian Gulf is recognized as the correct appellation by the United Nations and basically every other encyclopedia, dictionary, international body, and even the rest of the US government. Just not by the US Navy.
It’s not clear whether the navy also refers to the 1991 US military intervention in Iraq and Kuwait as the “Arabian Gulf War.” Probably not.