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Iran small boats shadow US ship carrying top US commander

Published: Updated:

The top US commander in the Middle East got an Iranian welcome as he arrived on the USS Essex in the Gulf.

Soon after Gen. Joseph Votel boarded the amphibious assault ship Friday morning one Iranian fast boat raced across in front of the Essex, while another shadowed it from the side.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps routinely buzz around US ships in the region, taking photos and collecting information. The boats came within about 300 yards of the Essex, and their radio chatter questioned what a US aircraft from the ship was doing.

A stealthy F-35 fighter jet had made a pass around the Essex, then hovered in the air above the deck before making a vertical landing as part of a demonstration for Votel.