US Navy Has No Idea Why Iran Stopped Bothering Its Boats

Iranian 'fast boats' suddenly stopped buzzing US vessels in August
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2018 4:09 PM CST
US Military Confused That Iran Isn't Harassing Its Boats
This handout image provided July 25, 2017 by the US Navy purports to show an Iranian vessel making a close approach to a US coastal patrol ship.   (U.S. Navy via AP)

For most of the past two years, Iranian "fast boats" crewed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps buzzed US military vessels passing through the Persian Gulf at least twice a month. This harassment, which posed a danger to all involved, occurred 50 times—until it suddenly stopped in August, the Wall Street Journal reports. While the US military isn't sure why the action stopped, it isn't going to complain about no longer having close calls with boats equipped with machine guns and rocket launchers. “We are not going to speculate on the reason for this recent positive trend in interactions, though we hope it will continue in the future,” said Cmdr. Bill Urban, a spokesperson for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Iranian officials aren't giving an explanation for the lack of fast boat harassment. “I hope it’s because we have messaged our readiness … and that it isn’t tolerable or how professional militaries operate,” says Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command. Ali Vaez at International Crisis Group says Iran doesn't want to give the Trump administration a reason to lash out. “I think they understand the administration’s policy at this stage is to put the spotlight on Iranians and portray them as the source of all evil in the region,” he says. Until August, Iranian fast boats would speed at US military vessels, getting close enough to open fire. In some of the tensest situations, they shined spotlights at US military vessels and pointed their weapon at a US helicopter. US vessels occasionally fired warning shots at the fast boats. (More Iran stories.)

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