US Navy says vessels seized by Iran were unarmed, ‘posed no risk to naval traffic’

The US Navy said the vessels had been operating in the general vicinity of the Southern Red Sea for more than 200 consecutive days without incident.

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The US Navy publicly confirmed on Friday that an Iranian warship seized and detained two US unmanned surface vessels in the Red Sea earlier in the week.

This came two days after Iran tried and failed to seize a similar vessel in the Gulf. “Jamaran (FFLG 76), an Islamic Republic of Iran Navy ship, seized two Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessels operating near one another in international waters before returning the vessels to the US Navy the next day,” the US Navy said.

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On Friday, Iranian state-run media said that the country’s navy seized and released two unmanned vessels, claiming they jeopardized maritime safety.

But the US Navy pushed back on the claim, suggesting that they were unarmed and taking unclassified photos of the surrounding areas while on an assigned patrol.

“The vessels posed no risk to naval traffic and had been operating in the general vicinity of the Southern Red Sea for more than 200 consecutive days without incident,” according to the Navy.

After the US 5th Fleet detected an Iranian ship approaching the unmanned vessels, two US guided-missile destroyers and another two MH-60R Sea Hawk responded.

The ships remained on the scene, “communicating with the Iranian warship to de-escalate the situation and recover the seized Saildrones.” The Saildrones were released early Friday after being detained by Iran for 18 hours.

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