US sails first drone boat through Strait of Hormuz

US sails first drone boat through Strait of Hormuz
# 19 April 2023 19:44 (UTC +04:00)

The US Navy sailed its first drone boat through the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday, a crucial waterway for global energy supplies where American sailors often face tense encounters with Iranian forces, APA reports citing the Nationalnews.

The trip by the L3 Harris Arabian Fox Mast-13, a 13m speedboat carrying sensors and cameras, drew the attention of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, but took place without incident, said Navy spokesman Cmdr Timothy Hawkins. Two US Coast Guard cutters, the Charles Moulthrope and the John Scheuerman, accompanied the drone.

The drone and accompanying ships passed safely through the strait, a busy waterway between Iran and Oman which at its narrowest is just 33km wide. A fifth of all oil traded passes through the strait, which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman.

“The Iranians observed the unmanned surface vessel transiting the strait in accordance with international law,” Cmdr Hawkins told the Associated Press. He said an Iranian drone and at least one Houdong-class fast-attack vessel operated by Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard observed the Mast-13 drone.

The US Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet patrols Middle East waters, particularly the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, to keep open the waterways for international trade, as well as protect American interests and allies. Iran, however, views the navy's presence as an affront, comparing the strategy as the equivalent of Iranian forces running patrols in the Gulf of Mexico.

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