US Navy foils Iranian attempt to capture unmanned vessel in Arabian Gulf

Screenshot of a video showing the support ship Shahid Baziar, left, from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy unlawfully towing a Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel in international waters of the Arabian Gulf, August 30, 2022. (Photo: US Navy)

The US Navy said it prevented a support ship from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) from capturing an unmanned surface vessel (USV) operated by the US Fifth Fleet in the Arabian Gulf on August 29 to 30.

While transiting international waters at around 23:00 local time on August 29, US Fifth Fleet observed the IRGCN support ship Shahid Baziar towing a Saildrone Explorer USV in an attempt to detain it.

The US Navy patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt was operating nearby and immediately responded. US Fifth Fleet also launched an MH-60S Sea Hawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, based in Bahrain.

The actions taken by US naval forces in response resulted in the IRGCN vessel disconnecting the towing line to the USV and departing the area approximately four hours later. The US Navy resumed operations without further incident.

The US Navy said the Saildrone Explorer USV the IRGCN attempted to confiscate is US government property and equipped with sensors, radars, and cameras for navigation and data collection. This technology is available commercially and does not store sensitive or classified information.

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