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Iranian ship shines laser on US Marine helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz in yet another provocation

June 16, 2017

An Iranian missile boat shined a laser at a U.S. military helicopter accompanying two U.S. Navy vessels and a cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz, between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman near Iran and the United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday.

U.S. officials told CBS News that the incident was considered by the U.S. Navy to be “unsafe and unprofessional.”

While transiting the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz, the USS Cole destroyer, the USS Bataan amphibious assault ship, the USNS Washington Chambers cargo ship and a U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter had an unsafe interaction with an Iranian Navy vessel.

The Iranian vessel came within 800 yards of the USS Cole destroyer and the USS Bataan, and scanned it from bow to stern with the spotlight, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban, a U.S. Fifth Fleet spokesman, said in a statement, according to CNN.

The Iranian vessel also shined a laser on the Marine CH-53E helicopter. The helicopter fired flares in response to the laser.

“Illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous as it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and can be disorienting to pilots using night vision goggles,” Urban said.

The United States has had several other encounters with Iranian vessels.

In April, the USS Mahan, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, had a dangerously close run-in with an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Fast Attack vessel.