Unguided Iranian Missiles Land in the Vicinity of Western Ships


On December 26, Western crew members aboard the USS Harry S. Truman and several other Western craft came to a fearful surprise.  While sailing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf of Oman, the an American aircraft carrier came dangerously close to Iranian rockets as shown by a black-and-white video released by the Navy.

The video, filmed from a Seahawk helicopter, exposed the actions of Iranian warships firing missiles in an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane. Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, called these events “highly provocative,” “unprofessional” and “unsafe.”

Even though the rockets were not fired in the direction of the ships, their presence increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran that already existed due from the nuclear deal. American officials also stated that these proceedings put the waterway in danger.

Afterward, Iran denied that the rockets were being fired at the ships and claimed they were merely a live exercise, declaring their actions put “no vessel…in danger,” according to Fars, the Iranian government-administered news agency.  

However, Cmdr. Kyle Raines, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, says in an announcement that the Western ships were given a 23-minute warning until the unguided missiles were launched.  Many believe this was not an ample amount of time for warning.

A French official, however, stated that they did not feel threatened by the live missile fire from Iran for the reason that undoubtedly was not directed at the Western fleet.  The fleet also did not encounter this problem again.

Eugene Gholz, an LBJ School of Public Affairs Associate Professor who works primarily at the intersection of national security and economic policy, had a few words on this topic. “Theater is a good word for it,” he says. “You build a set, you carry out activity on the set, you send actors and you hope people are watching and really paying the price of admission.”  

In this case, the activity was the firing of the missiles, the people watching were the Western fleet and the actors were the Iranian ships.

American officials are not pleased about of the missile launch even though they understand it was not launched at them.  This problem added to the tensions that were already in existence due to the nuclear deal and previous battles.  But, the French do not feel challenged as they were very sure the missiles were not fired at them.