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US denies Iran report of confrontation with US vessel

By Reuters - Sep 10,2017 - Last updated at Sep 10,2017

BEIRUT — An Iranian military vessel confronted an American warship in the Gulf and warned it to stay away from a damaged Iranian fishing boat, Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday, but the US Navy denied any direct contact with Iranian forces.

The American vessel turned away after the warning from the Iranian ship, which belonged to the naval branch of the Iranian army, according to Tasnim. The Iranian military vessel then towed the fishing boat, which had sent out a distress signal after taking on water, back to shore.

The agency did not specify when the incident, close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, took place.

In a statement, US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) said the coastal patrol USS Tempest, operating in the Gulf of Oman on September 6, heard the distress call of an unidentified small boat about 75 nautical miles from the Tempest's position.

At the same time the motor vessel Nordic Voyager, much closer to the boat in distress, offered help and had made visual contact with it. The Tempest offered to support the Nordic Voyager which declined the offer, NAVCENT said. 

Following the radio traffic from a distance, USS Tempest heard the Nordic Voyager coordinate additional Iranian Navy help for the vessel in distress to tow it back to Iran. 

"At no time was there any direct contact between the US and Iranian maritime forces," NAVCENT spokesman Chloe Morgan said.

 

Tensions have been on the rise between the Iranian and US military in the Gulf in recent months.

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