Naval Warfare

Screenshots of Surveillance footage from US Navy P-8A Poseidon show Iranian fast-attack craft harassing merchant vessel transiting the Strait of Hormuz

The civilian crew reported three fast-attack craft with armed personnel approached and followed the merchant vessel at close distance.

The US Navy and Royal Navy forces responded to a distress call from a merchant vessel transiting the Strait of Hormuz, on Jun. 4, 2023 as Iranian fast-attack boats harassed the commercial ship.

According to a US Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs news release, the internationally flagged merchant vessel made a radio distress call at 4:56 p.m. local time while transiting the narrow strait. The civilian crew reported three fast-attack craft with armed personnel approached and followed the merchant vessel at close distance. The fast-attacked craft were assessed to be from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy.

A screenshot of surveillance footage from a US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft showing three Iranian fast-attack craft approaching an internationally flagged merchant vessel transiting the Strait of Hormuz, Jun. 4, 2023.

US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul (DDG 74) and UK Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster (F 229) both received the distress call, and Lancaster launched a helicopter to provide surveillance. US 5th Fleet also directed a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to monitor the scene, as the images in this post show.
The situation deescalated approximately an hour later when the merchant vessel confirmed the fast-attack craft departed the scene. The merchant ship continued transiting the Strait of Hormuz without further incident.

20% of the world’s oil pass through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.

The US Navy did not identify the vessel involved, but ship-tracking data from MarineTraffic.com analyzed by The Associated Press showed the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Venture erratically changed course as it traveled through the strait at the time of the incident. As reported by AP News, its location also matched information about the incident given by the UK Maritime Trade Operations, a British military operation overseeing traffic in the region. The vessel also resembled the images released by the Navy.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. P-8A Poseidon Air Test and Evaluation Squadron ONE (VX-1) Pioneers, JA955 / 167955. NAS Patuxent River, MD

This latest incident comes after a series of maritime incidents involving Iran following the US withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.

As previously reported, in December 2019 a satellite image showed USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier shadowed by 20 Iranian fast inshore attack crafts while transiting the Strait of Hormuz.

As then told by T-Intelligence, airborne- and surface-based fleet air defense elements, such as F/A-18s and at least two guided-missile destroyers safeguarded the US Navy flattop during the exfiltration.

A screenshot of surveillance footage from a US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft showing three Iranian fast-attack craft approaching an internationally flagged merchant vessel transiting the Strait of Hormuz, Jun 4, 2023.

Photo credit: US Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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