Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) attempted to seize an unmanned naval vessel operating in the Persian Gulf, the US military said Tuesday.

Gen. Michael Kurilla, the commander of US Central Command, said the “professionalism and competence” of the crew of the USS Thunderbolt, a naval patrol ship, “prevented Iran from this illegal action.”

“This incident once again demonstrates Iran’s continued destabilizing, illegal, and unprofessional activity in the Middle East,” said Kurilla.

The Navy separately said that an IRGC support ship attempted to capture “an unmanned surface vessel” operated by the US Fifth Fleet between Monday and Tuesday.

The incident began around 11 p.m. local time when the Navy detected the support ship Shahid Bazia towing a Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel with the intent of detaining it. The Thunderbolt “immediately responded,” and the Fifth Fleet launched an MH-60S Sea Hawk from Bahrain to support the patrol ship.

The Shahid Bazia then disconnected the line it was using to tow the Saildrone Explorer and departed the area roughly four hours later, it said.

“IRGCN’s actions were flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of the Fifth Fleet, said in a statement. “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.”

The Saildrone Explorer is a commercially-available wind and solar powered vessel capable of collecting data via a series of sensors, cameras and radars.

Source » realcleardefense