Iranian Helicopter Circled USS Essex

Confrontations between US ships and Iranian forces happen frequently in the Persian Gulf. Earlier this year US ships had to fire warning shots when Iranian vessels accosted US ships. On Thursday last week, an Iranian helicopter flew within 25 yards of the USS Essex on its port side, and about 10 feet off the surface of the ocean, circling the ship three times. The US Department of Defense called it “unsafe and unprofessional.” Earlier in November, the USS Essex had a similar encounter with several Iranian drones. The US ship was in international waters at the time of the encounter.

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Without getting into specifics, the crew of the Essex took the appropriate force protection measures they felt that they needed to, and they acted in accordance with international law. There was no impact ultimately to the Essex’s transit or its operations but that doesn’t mean that this wasn’t an unsafe and unprofessional act.

When you have another armed force — in this case, the Iranian navy — that flies like this, you definitely run the risk of some sort of escalation and a miscalculation on either side here, and that’s not helpful. This one ended peacefully, but it doesn’t mean it was safe and professional. It absolutely wasn’t.

John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman (Stripes)

Kirby stated that the incident was dangerous because the US has the right of defense. The USS Essex, an amphibious assault ship, is in the region training with the HMS Queen Elizabeth strike group.

In April , USS Firebolt released warning shots after three Iranian fast-attack boats harassed the ship. In May, the USGC Cutter Maui fired warning shots when harassed by Iranian fast-attack craft as well. It’s a dangerous game the Iranians are playing- the patience of US Naval commanders may wear thin in one moment of time and Iran could start something they won’t want. The Iranian helicopter incident is just one of dozens of encounters that could one day prove fatal.

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Featured screenshot – inside the Iranian helicopter from video

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