An Iranian rocket fell as close as 1,500 yards to a US warship during a live-fire drill when the vessel was cruising in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Infuriated American forces called the action "provocative".
When the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman was sailing in the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, little did it expect to come under fire. The vessel was informed of the ongoing Iranian live-fire exercises in the region — a frequent flashpoint between the two parties — just 23 minutes prior to the discharge, it claimed.
The close maritime encounter, which was first reported by NBC News, took place when the vessel was flanked by two coalition ships. One of the escorting vessels was American while the other belongs to an unnamed country, which is part of the US-led coalition operating in the region. US officials maintain the vessel remained on the international traffic route.
Though none of vessels in the fleet or any other ship in the region came under direct fire, the sheer proximity of rocket fire and military vessels raised serious concerns.
"These actions were highly provocative, unsafe and unprofessional and call into question Iran's commitment to the security of a waterway vital to international commerce," Navy Commander Kyle Raines, spokesperson for US Central Command, told Military Times. "While most interactions between Iranian forces and the US Navy are professional, safe and routine, this event was not and runs contrary to efforts to ensure freedom of navigation and maritime safety in the global commons."
Truman was en route to join French vessel Charles de Gaulle to mount air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) targets when the incident took place. The USS Bulkeley destroyer and a French frigate were also present in nearby waters at the time when Iranian rockets were fired. None of the western vessels took any evasive action.
The Strait of Hormuz, which is located on the mouth of Persian Gulf, is an important stretch of water and a vital part of maritime trade to and from the Middle East. It is also a key trade route for global oil supply tankers.