Saturday May 18, 2013
| 13:32 AM GMT
"The small boats continued toward Westward Venture and the ship's
embarked security team fired warning shots," the navy said. "The small boats
left the area."
This marked at least the fifth encounter between U.S. Navy and IRGC
assault vessels in the Gulf since December 2007. But this was the first time
the U.S. Navy reported opening fire toward
has denied the
Later, officials said the Westward Venture received a radio query from a
ship that identified itself as an Iranian Coast Guard vessel. Westward
Venture, which measures some
, is a U.S.-flagged and chartered
roll-on/roll-off ship owned by Totem Ocean Trailer Express.
"A short time later, Westward Venture received a query from a unit
identifying itself as Iranian Coast Guard," the Fifth Fleet said. "It is not
clear if this was one of the small boats or a separate boat. The query was
routine and correct."
The confrontation came amid increasing Iranian help to Shi'ite militias
. On April 25, Adm.
, the chairman of the U.S. Joint
Chiefs of Staff, said
was intensifying weapons and training support to
anti-U.S. forces in
"It's not just weapons," Mullen said. "They [
] continue to train
to come back and fight Americans in the coalition. I just
don't see any evidence of them backing off. And [the fighting in March in]
highlighted a lot of that."
At the same time, Mullen said the
does not seek war with
, although he could not rule this out. Referring to the
, the admiral said "a third conflict in
this part of the world would be extremely stressing for us."
"But in terms of having another conflict in that region, I certainly
don't think that would be where we'd want to go right now," Mullen said.
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