Tehran: An Iranian naval fleet briefly seized two US Army unmanned research vessels in the Red Sea before releasing them, Iranian state media reported on Friday.
“The Iranian Navy destroyer Jamaran encountered several US Army unmanned research vessels on the international sea route on Thursday while conducting a counter-terrorism mission in the Red Sea,” state television said.
He added that “after alerting a US destroyer twice, the fleet seized the two drone ships to avoid possible accidents.”
“After securing the passage of international shipping, the fleet released the two ships in a safe area,” continued the state broadcaster, broadcasting footage purporting to show the two US ships aboard a ship of the Iranian forces.
The US Navy said its ships were taking photos of the area and had been near the Southern Red Sea for more than 200 days.
“At around 2:00 pm (local time) on September 1, the US 5th Fleet discovered that the Iranian ship had approached both unmanned ships and pulled them out of the water,” the US Navy said. in a note.
Two destroyers operating in the area, the USS Nitze and the USS Delbert D. Black, “remained in place to communicate with the Iranian warship to alleviate the situation,” the note read.
The US Navy ships were released around 8:00 the next day, according to the statement.
In a previous separate incident, the Pentagon said Tuesday that an Iranian ship hijacked a US military drone ship in the Gulf, but released it after a US Navy patrol boat and helicopter were deployed to the site.
The US Central Command 5th Fleet said an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps support vessel, the Shahid Baziar, was spotted on Monday carrying the seven-meter Saildrone Explorer Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV).
US forces then dispatched the coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt and an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter.
This “resulted in the IRGCN ship disconnecting the tow cable at the USV and leaving the area approximately four hours later” without further incident, the 5th Fleet said.
Separately on Thursday, the Iranian navy said the same fleet had foiled a pirate attack on an Iranian merchant ship in the area.
“A suspicious boat with 12 armed people on board approached the Iranian merchant vessel in the Bab al-Mandab Strait on Thursday,” the official IRNA news agency said, citing a navy statement.
He said a squadron had come into confrontation with “pirates in the Red Sea”, adding that the intruding boat “left the area” after the escort flotilla “led by the destroyer Jamaran … opened the fire”.
On August 10, a senior Iranian navy commander said the same flotilla foiled a nighttime attack on another Islamic Republic vessel.
Rear Admiral Mustafa Tajeddini said at the time that after an Iranian ship called for help in the Red Sea, the flotilla was rushed to the scene and fired on the attacking boats. “After heavy exchanges, the attacking boats took off,” he added.
Like other countries that depend on the sea route through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, Iran has intensified its naval presence in the Gulf of Aden following a series of attacks by Somali pirates between 2000 and 2011.