Pentagon says Iranian helicopter made ‘unprofessional’ pass within 25 yards of USS Essex

ARABIAN GULF The amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) transits the Persian Gulf during air operations on November 13. US Navy Photo

Iranian Navy helicopter approached within 25 feet of USS Essex (LHD-2) while the ship was in the Gulf of Oman, the Pentagon confirmed on Monday.

USS Essex is in the Persian Gulf after completing training with the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS queen elizabeth (R08) in the Gulf of Oman on Nov. 8, according to USNI News’ Fleet and Marine Tracker.

The Iranian helicopter flew within 25 meters of the Essexto port, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during his press briefing on Monday. The helicopter flew up to 10 feet above the water’s surface and circled the ship three times.

“It worked in a dangerous and unprofessional manner,” Kirby said.

There was no impact on the Essex operations or its ability to navigate, he said, reiterating that the helicopter had acted in an unprofessional and dangerous manner.

Kirby did not go into details on the actions that the Essex the crew took when pressed by reporters, although they said the warship acted under international law. The commander of Essex did what was in the best interests of the ship and the crew, Kirby said.

“There are rules of engagement, which I won’t speak from the podium, that our commanders have at their disposal to deal with potential threats,” Kirby said. “And when you have another armed force, in this case the Iranian navy flying like that, you certainly run the risk of some kind of escalation and miscalculation or either side here, and what n is not useful. This one ended peacefully, but that doesn’t mean it was safe and professional.

Kirby told reporters questions should be directed to the Iranian government about using their pilots to fly so close to a US warship.

The incident with Essex comes after the merchant tanker M / V flying the Vietnamese flag Sothys left Iranian port Bandar Abbas after the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps navy seized control of it in the Gulf of Oman on October 24.

USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) and USS Michael P. Murphy (DDG-112) were investigating a suspected crime when approached by IRGCN, USNI News reported.

An Iranian state-sponsored news outlet reported that the two ships attempted to stop Sothys with the IRGCN forcing them to leave. Kirby denied the charges at a press conference last week but declined to go into details.

Essex, USS amphibious transport dock Portland (LPD-27) and the amphibious landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52) departed San Diego on August 12 with the embarkation of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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