Mon, 09 Jan 2017 14:03 UTC
The USS Mahan destroyer apparently tried to establish contact with the approaching Iranian vessels and asked them to reduce their speed, but they did not respond, according to unnamed officials quoted by the news outlet.
The incident took place on Sunday.
According to Reuters, Iranian ships came as close as 800 meters (2,624ft) to the USS Mahan, which had been guarding other US vessels.
In late November, a small Iranian vessel pointed its gun at a US Navy chopper in the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon announced at the time. The incident happened in international waters, US military officials noted.
The encounters are just the latest in a spate of similar incidents involving the Iranian and US Navies in 2016. In July, the USS New Orleans and its escort ship, the USS Stout, a guided missile destroyer, were approached by several Iranian vessels whose crews filmed the sailors.
The most widely-reported case, however, occurred in January 2016, when 10 US sailors were taken into custody after their boats crossed into Iranian waters. Footage later emerged showing US servicemen kneeling on the deck of the patrol boat with their hands up, and later seated in a room being given tea and food by the Iranians. The Pentagon later announced that the US sailors had crossed into Iranian waters due to a malfunction in navigation equipment.
The Strait of Hormuz is located between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. It is the only seaway from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is among the world's key maritime 'choke points.'
The USS Mahan is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, commissioned in 1998. It is armed with dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles, which have a range of about 1,000 nautical miles (around 1,900km) and are used for precise targeting.
Comment: Earlier in the day, media reported that the US Navy destroyer Mahan fired warning shots at four Iranian boats in the Strait of Hormuz that were closing in on it at a rapid pace. The ship warned the Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats to stop before firing warning flares and a smoke float on Sunday.
"The United States does not know what the intentions of the Iranian vessel were, but the behavior is not acceptable," Earnest stated. "These types of actions are certainly concerning and, certainly, risk escalating tensions when it is our view that we should look for ways to deescalate tensions."
The incident is the latest of several confrontations between US and Iranian vessels around the Persian Gulf.