Iran seized and released American sea drone in Gulf, says US Navy

The US Navy says Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized an American sea drone in the Gulf before letting it go, the second such incident in two days.

Iranian officials claimed to have seized two Saildrone Explorers drones before releasing them, the Associated Press reported.

Iranian state television showed footage from the deck of its Jamaran destroyer with what appeared to be two Saildrone Explorers.

It said the Iranian navy found “several unmanned spying vessels abandoned in the international maritime routes” on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

“After two warnings to an American destroyer to prevent possible incidents, Jamaran seized the two vessels,” Iranian state TV said.

“After securing the international shipping waterway, the Naval Squadron No. 84 released the vessels in a safe area.”

Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet, acknowledged the incident on Friday to the Associated Press but declined to immediately elaborate.

This marks the second-such incident involving Iran in recent days as negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers hangs in the balance.

On Tuesday, the US Navy dispatched a patrol boat USS Thunderbolt and a MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter to prevent an Iranian support ship from capturing an unmanned surface vessel.

“(Iran’s) actions were flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.

The U.S. Navy prevented a support ship from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) from capturing an unmanned surface vessel operated by the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Arabian Gulf, Aug. 29-30.


— U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet (@US5thFleet) August 30, 2022

The increasingly combative confrontations come as Iran has begun shipping strike drones to Russia for use in Ukraine.

The Washington Post reported that transport planes carrying unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying weapons to attack military targets departed Iran for Russia on 19 August.

The flights were picked up by US and allied spy agencies, The Post reported.

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