The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy attempted to capture a U.S. Navy unmanned surface vessel that was operating in the Arabian Gulf on Monday and Tuesday, U.S. 5th Fleet said in a statement.
The Navy stopped the IRGCN support ship from capturing the Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel, which was not named in the news release. The USV does not store sensitive or classified information. It is equipped with commercially available cameras, radars and sensors for data collection and navigation.
U.S. 5th Fleet spotted IRGCN support ship Shahid Baziar towing the USV around 11 p.m. local time Monday, according to the release. Navy patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt (PC-12), which was operating nearby, responded while 5th Fleet also sent a MH-60S Sea Hawk from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 out of Bahrain.
Shahid Baziar detached its towing line from the USV and left the waters about four hours after the U.S. responded.
“IRGCN’s actions were flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in the release. “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.”