Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Iranian rocket passes within 1,500 yards of US aircraft carrier

Iranian rocket passes within 1,500 yards of US aircraft carrier
Published December 30, 2015
Iranian rockets passed within 1,500 yards of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz last week, a senior defense official confirmed Tuesday to Fox News.

Cmdr. Kyle Raines, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, said in a statement to the Associated Press early Wednesday that Iranian Revolutionary Guard naval vessels fired "several unguided rockets" after giving only 23 minutes' notice over maritime radio that a live-fire exercise would be carried out. The incident was first reported by NBC News.

Raines described the Iranian fleet's actions as "highly provocative".

"Firing weapons so close to passing coalition ships and commercial traffic within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane is unsafe, unprofessional and inconsistent with international maritime law," the spokesman said.

While the United States has complained previously about other Iranian war games and maneuvers there, Saturday's incident comes after a series of weapons tests and other moves by Tehran following this past summer's nuclear deal. Iranian media and officials did not immediately discuss the tests Wednesday.

In addition to the Truman, the destroyer USS Bulkeley and French frigate FS Provence were in the area, as was commercial sea traffic.

A U.S. military official told The Hill newspaper that the Iranian ships approached the Truman and other vessels before announcing it was setting the live-fire exercise in motion and requesting nearby vessels to keep clear.

Just 23 minutes later, the Iranians repeated the warning and the rockets were launched. It was not immediately clear how many projectiles were fired. The Hill reported the ships departed the area after the launches.

Officials said the rockets traveled in a direction taking them away from the Truman and other shipping traffic in the strait, which conncts the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea and is the route for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.

The Truman arrived in the Persian Gulf recently to provide a launching point for airstrikes against the ISIS terror group in Iraq and Syria. It replaces the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which departed the Middle East this past October. The French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle is also in the Gulf to perform similar functions.

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