Nov 16, 2021 - World

Pentagon: Iran helicopter "circled" close to U.S. warship

Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing on the situation in Afghanistan at the Pentagon in Washington, DC on August 16

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

An Iranian military helicopter "circled" close to a U.S. Navy warship in an "unsafe and unprofessional manner" three times in the Gulf of Oman, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Monday.

The big picture: Saturday's incident, which ended without impact, comes as U.S. special envoy for Iran Rob Malley visits the Middle East ahead of the resumption of indirect nuclear talks with Iran.

Details: Kirby said at a briefing that the Iranian helicopter came within 25 yards of the USS Essex in the Gulf, including "at one point as low as about 10 feet off the surface of the ocean," Kirby said.

  • "[T]he crew of the Essex took the appropriate force protection measures that they felt they needed to, and they acted, of course, in accordance with international law," he continued.
  • "There was no impact ultimately to the Essex transit or their operations.  But that doesn't mean that this wasn't an unsafe and unprofessional act."
  • Kirby did not reveal the specific location of the incident and Iranian officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
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