July 25 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy patrol ship fired warning shots at an approaching Iranian boat in the Persian Gulf Tuesday, Pentagon officials confirmed.
The Iranian boat, believed to be operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, came within 150 yards of the USS Thunderbolt as Navy warships were involved in a formation exercise in the northern Persian Gulf.
After warnings from the U.S. ship, including radio calls, Navy officials ordered the firing of flares and blasts from the ship's whistle and warning shots from the Thunderbolt's 50-caliber machine gun, an official said.
The Iranian ship stopped, but remained in the area for several hours.
The 179-foot USS Thunderbolt is a Cyclone-class patrol ship armed with two 25mm Mk-38 machine guns, two .50-caliber machine guns and two automatic grenade launchers.
While the number of encounters between Iranian and U.S. forces has declined in recent months, Tuesday's incident is one of several so far this year. Last month, an Iranian vessel aimed a laser at a U.S. helicopter as it traveled with Pentagon warships in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz. The action was described by the U.S. military as "unsafe and unprofessional."
In April, The United States said an Iranian ship of "unprofessional but also provocative" behavior approached the USS Mahan in the Persian Gulf. In January, a U.S. warship fired warning shots after an Iranian ship sailed too close.