Several Iranian military vessels approached and fired unguided rockets near a U.S. aircraft carrier traveling through international waters, two U.S. officials confirmed to The Hill.
The Iranian vessels came as close at 1,500 yards from the USS Harry S. Truman before firing the rockets in a direction away from the carrier, one U.S. military official told The Hill.
The official called the incident “certainly unnecessarily provocative” and “unsafe.” It happened last week, on Dec. 26, as the Truman was transiting the Strait of Hormuz, “an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane,” the official said. NBC News first reported the incident.
At around 10:36 a.m., several Iranian navy vessels approached the Truman, as well as other coalition and merchant vessels, the official said.
“They were observed quickly approaching their location as they transited the Strait of Hormuz into the Arabian Gulf,” said the official.
At 10:45 a.m., Iran warned of a “previously unannounced live-fire exercise over maritime radio and requested for nearby vessels to remain clear,” the official added.
Twenty-three minutes later, at 11:08 a.m., the exercise warnings were repeated, and the ships started to launch the rockets, the official said.
It is unclear how many rockets were fired, the official added; however, they were fired in a direction away from the passing commercial and coalition ships. The ships departed after firing the rockets.
The Truman is the first U.S. aircraft carrier to enter the Gulf, after the USS Theodore Roosevelt left in October, leaving a U.S. carrier gap of several months. The U.S. has maintained a carrier presence in the Gulf for decades, even keeping two carriers there at the same time to support the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
When the Roosevelt left the Gulf in early October, Iran conducted a ballistic missile test.
The Truman carried out its first missions in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syriaon Tuesday. The French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle is also in the Gulf in support of operations against ISIS.
Updated 12/30/15 at 11:53 a.m.