US President Donald Trump says he has instructed the navy to shoot down and "destroy all gunboats" harassing American ships. The Pentagon had claimed that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy indulged in provocative action against US Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Persian Gulf.
Iran has maintained a considerable military presence in the region which is seen as a threat to the navies of the west. Trump's statement came in the form a tweet, but it is unsure whether it is a standing order or not. It is also unclear whether the Central Command which oversees the Middle Eastern operations will follow through and fire upon any Iranian boat.
According to a statement by the US Navy on April 15, six military vessels from the US were conducting routine operations in the international waters when 11 Iranian ships "crossed the bows and sterns of the US vessels at extremely close range and high speeds".
The reports also said that the Iranian ships came as close as 10 yards of the US Coast Guard ship.
The US had released videos of the Iranian Navy approaching the US vessels in a threatening and provocative way. The video showed multiple Iranian flags on the ships trailing the US ships. There were men standing on the ship holding guns but they were not seen to be pointing the gun at the ship. In the video, it was also seen that the US vessels were sounding the horns as the Iranian vessels approached.
During the warnings issued by the US vessels, the crews sent bridge-to-bridge radio warnings, five short blasts from ship's horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices to the Iranian ships.
The statement said: "After approximately one hour, the IRGCN vessels responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, then maneuvered away from the US ships and opened the distance between them."
Tensions between the two countries have been rising since the US killed one of the top military officials in Iran.