According to two US defense officials, two Iranian fast attack boats came as close as 300 yards of the USS Essex in the Persian Gulf Friday while the four star head of the US Central Command was on board.
General Joseph Votel, the commanding general of CENTCOM, was observing the routine flight operations on board the Essex when the incident took place.
The encounter with the two Iranian boats was ruled to be safe as well as professional by the Navy as the Iranians did not demonstrate any hostile intent, the officials said.
There wasn’t any indication that the Iranian boat crews were aware of Votel’s presence. One official said that the two Iranian craft began shadowing the Essex before it started sailing in parallel with the US ship.
One of the Iranian boats even crossed in front of the Essex, as close as 300 yards to the US ship.
In should be noted that in July 2016, Votel had another very close encounter with Iran’s Navy when a US Navy warship he was on board got approached by five armed Iranian craft in the Persian Gulf.
These types of incidents do happen frequently and mostly are very safe and professional, where no harm is intended.