Dozens of Iranian sailors were reportedly killed during the early morning hours on Monday after an Iranian destroyer accidentally opened fire on another Iranian destroyer.
“Dozens of sailors in Iran’s Navy were killed early Monday after a on-board missile was accidentally shot from one destroyer and hit another,” The Jerusalem Post reported. “During a military drill, a C-802 missile was fired toward another Iranian Navy destroyer, striking it and causing extensive damage, the reports said.”
“Some 40 naval service members were missing after the incident, local media outlets reportedly said,” according to Haaretz. “Iran’s Fars semi-official news agency meanwhile said one person was killed and several injured during a naval exercise.”
The news comes after tensions between the U.S. Navy and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN), which is a designated terrorist organization, increased last month when 11 Iranian gun boats swarmed a U.S. destroyer in the region.
The U.S. Navy said in a statement at the time:
On April 15, eleven Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches of the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Firebolt (PC 10), USS Sirocco (PC 6), USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) and USCGC Maui (WPB 1304) while the U.S. vessels were conducting joint integration operations with U.S. Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in the international waters of the North Arabian Gulf.
The IRGCN vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the U.S. vessels at extremely close range and high speeds, including multiple crossings of the Puller with a 50 yard closest point of approach (CPA) and within 10 yards of Maui’s bow.
The U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices, but received no response from the IRGCN.
After approximately one hour, the IRGCN vessels responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, then maneuvered away from the U.S. ships and opened distance between them.
The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) “rules of the road” or internationally recognized maritime customs, and were not in accordance with the obligation under international law to act with due regard for the safety of other vessels in the area.
The U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Army have been conducting joint interoperability operations in the North Arabian Gulf since late March.
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.
Trump later responded to the incident by saying, “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our 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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020
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