Over three weeks ago a group of three of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) speedboats and a catamaran-style support ship, swarmed two U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) vessels operating in the Persian Gulf. The IRGCN vessels reportedly came within 70 yards of the U.S. ships. However, none of this was reported until an April 24 press release from the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
The three speedboats were reported by the Navy as ‘fast attack craft (FAC)/fast inshore attack craft (FIAC).’
The Iranian catamaran-type vessel was launched in 2016 and can reportedly carry a helicopter and up to 100 personnel. The US Office of Naval Intelligence designates this ‘support’ vessel as ‘Harth 55.’ It is described as 55 meters long (180 feet) and 14 meters wide (46 feet) and has a speed of 28 knots.
The Navy stated that the Iranian ships followed the U.S. Coast Guard Island-class patrol cutters USCGC Monomoy (WPB-1326) and USCGC Wrangell (WPB-1332) as they patrolled international waters in the Persian Gulf. The USCGC ships are assigned to Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), the largest U.S. Coast Guard unit outside the United States and operate under U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s Task Force 55.
Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, told the Wall Street Journal that the Coast Guard vessels issued warnings for three hours as the Iranian speed boats buzzed past them and repeatedly crossed in front of their bows. The press release added that: “The IRGCN’s actions were deemed unsafe and unprofessional.”
The Navy also noted that “U.S. naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner, while our commanding officers retain the inherent right to act in self-defense.”