back to article US-Iranian naval clash: Radio trolls probably to blame

Those readers who follow the non-IT'n'Paris news will be aware that in recent days a group of US warships almost fired on fast boats operated by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. This was after hearing radio transmissions in which the Iranians appeared to threaten some form of attack. A heavily-accented voice speaking in English …


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  1. Inspector_Morse

    So, no different to CB Radio back in the early 80s....

    .. when cretinous school kids totally killed CB radio's usefulness for professional drivers when in suburban areas. Maybe you, dear reader, were one of them?

  2. Josh

    Get your facts straight

    The admission that they didn't know for sure who was on the radio came out either the same day or the next day after the report was made. The very first article I read about the situation contained this information. The issue at hand was less what was said over the radio, but more the supposed actions in the water, including dropping boxes in front of a ship. Then the used what was heard over the radio a supporting evidence why it was so dangerous to be making the maneuvers in the water that they were. Now, I have not watched the video, nor am I familiar with typical maritime dealings, so I cannot comment on whether or not the Navy made too big of a deal out of this or not.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    High capability EWar/Elintel...

    I thought US warships were equipped with state of the art radio gear for electronic warfare and intel gathering. Would it not be sensible to make it standard procedure to Direction Find any broadcasts that seem to be threatening, in case they actually are? Or is that not possible in the frequencies in question?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Won't GMDSS SelCall eventually stop this by making the source of transmissions known, on big ships at least?

  5. heystoopid

    Oh no

    Oh no not another Turner Joy fantasy !

    Duck and cover !

  6. Pat

    Ears on a spider's legs

    Well at least the Americans didn't 'experiment' to find out after which bolt-of-destruction the radio transmissions would cease.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    RE: So, no different to CB Radio back in the early 80s....

    Actually, channel 9 was ALWAYS kept clear for emergencies. IIRC there was another channel number used for general shoutouts (for example traffic warnings) and requests for chat, and yet others that were taken over for specialised chat...*

    Of course the low number of channels (only 40 on the sets I remember) made it fun trying to find a private channel in heavily built up areas...

    *Note - I grew up in the area between Banbury and Oxford; results may have varied due to location

    Cretinous Schoolkid

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "We cannot make a direct connection to the boats... It could have come from the shore, from another ship passing by... I guess we're not saying that it absolutely came from the boats, but we're not saying it absolutely didn't."

    US Captain: "Jaw jaw jaw"

    Bush Cheney: "War war war"

    Neocon press: "War War War"

    Israel: "WAR WAR WAR"

    US Intelligence: "Naw Naw naw"

    Pentagon: "No no no"

    US Navy Spokeman: "No no no"

  9. David Tonhofer Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @Get your facts straight

    > including dropping boxes in front of a ship.


    Seriously, here's an excellent complement to the above article:,15202,159657,00.html

    It says:

    -- And when I say "speedboat," folks, I'm not talking about a small frigate, or even something the size of PT 109. I'm talking about the kind of boat you see on American lakes every summer pulling sunburned water skiers around. These Iranian boats are typically armed with a single high caliber machine gun, which is, to put it placidly, a darn sight less weaponry than U.S. combatant ships carry. It sounds to me like the "white box-like objects" the speedboats dropped into the water were Little Rascals technology simulations of mines, painted a bright color for the express purpose of ensuring the Americans saw them and steered around them.

  10. EJ

    "Or perhaps both sides actually did know all this, but they just like shouting at each other."

    Bingo! We have a winner.

    Good to know that Internet manners have spilled over to maritime communications, too.

  11. Steve

    All too familiar

    *cough* Gulf of Tonkin *cough*

    I'll be taking anything the US says on the subject of Iran with a shovel full of salt.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Yup, that's about right

    Having been through the Straits of Hormuz a few times myself, Lewis' account of the environment seems pretty much spot on to me.

    Ships going through the Straits do so *fast* - everyone in the game knows that. Which is why, also, everyone knows to stay out of each other's way ..... unless you mean to cause trouble .... or have some psycho Revolutionary Guard style fun, that is.

    Only a handful of people know the truth of that situation, though.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    A little outside the box here...

    ...but could this have been some kind of Iranian Electronic intelligence gathering excercise?

    I mean, the scenario seems to be unusual enough to force a more-lengthy-than "weve come across a ship" communication, would definately generated some encrypted comms from the US side of things, maybe with enough type-specific information the Iranians are trying to match the ships encrypted transmissions with the circumstances, eg, trying to break the US Navys encrypted comms.

    Im sure Im going to be flamed back to the stone-age for saying that lol. In my defence, the Germans and Japanese in WW2 thought their encrypted comms were secure as well, though the US are hopefully using the stronger One-Time-Pad jobs Id expect. Maybe the Iranians have had a breakthrough of some kind, who knows. Lets hope someone at the right desk has at least thought about this scenario.

  14. Jon Double Nice


    Just like in the films: Computer - enhance that and get a fix on it...

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Open Fire!

    Its all a bit Gulf of Tonkin Incident if you ask me.

    If your old enough or learned enough to know about this then the parallels are worrying. For those who aren't, well, it was the incident in which the US claimed the North Vietnamese attacked their ships and which they subsequently used as part or all of the reason for a bit of bombing in retaliation and we all know how that turned out 10 years later.

    I'm surprised that the yanks didn't have a pop.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    gotta love it

    the automatic knee jerk defense of the Ayatollah's Iran, the same Iran of hostage taking fame, of college crackdown fame, of "brag about supersonic torpedoes" fame. Even with video, the anti-American brigades and the treasonous media bend over backwards trying to come up with the most half-assed reasons to let the Iranians off the hook.

    If there was any "prank" to this, it was the Iranians trying to see just how provocative and violent they could get and still the media would make up excuses for them.

    Of course, we're supposed to believe, that at the point where this occurred, some high-power transmitter equipped "prankster" was watching that part of the sea and just happened to catch the Iranians dropping off packages and racing around warships in an already hostile situation, and figured that time was perfect for setting up this whole situation. Wow. nevermind that this wasn't at the narrowest point of the Strait, so there would have to have been some pretty powerful optics "coincidentally" scanning the area at this exact time. The "9-11 Truth" make more sense than this.

    However, had the roles been reversed, our anti-Western folks would happily have allowed for and celebrated nuclear retaliation and billions in "reparations" owed to the poor insulted Iranians had it been an American yacht off course anywhere near an Iranian military convoy.

    Is El Reg partially owned by Al Jazeera now? Does someone have to bribe Mr. Page to automatically doubt Americans (and even the British) even when against the historically provocative theocracy that Iran has been since my childhood? Or is it some sort of psychosis due to some sort of chemical inhalation in the jungle? Or is it more of "better to be at the left hand of the devil, than in his path"?

    Besides, I thought Mr. Page was he's naval bridge crew? I know.."Commander" Bond?

  17. Phil

    And another thing ....

    While I'm ranting ... if I had seen my democratically elected government toppled by a foreign power (at the request of another) and suffered under a right bastard and his secret police for a few decades then, when I got hold of some representatives of the offending state I wouldn't have taken them hostage - I'd have put their heads on pikes on the walls of the Tower of London.

    And if some moron had parked his cruiser under an airway off my coast, shouted "it's coming straight at me !" (far too like South Park to be funny) when an airliner did what it did every day and killed hundreds of innocents, then had those involved let off scot free to avoid problems in next year's Presidential elections I'd have a bit of a bad attitude as a a result.

  18. Lewis Page (Written by Reg staff)

    Mine Clearance Diver

    Mr. Coward -

    I was a Minewarfare and Clearance Diving Officer, a bit like a USN EOD diver. MCDOs serve in minewarfare ships as complement officers, as well as in shore-based EOD units. There being no place for officers who can't stand a bridge watch in an RN minehunter, you have to get your bridge ticket before you can attempt MCDO training, and you keep watchstanding as Ops and even XO.

    And I don't like the Pasdaran at all. I've been within their reach as an armed, uniformed representative of Western democracy, in fact, so my position on theocratic gunmen should be pretty bloody clear.

    That doesn't mean I think our side can't make mistakes. Nor does it mean this was a likely time for the Pasdaran to be doing any more than fool about annoyingly, given the recent US intel assessment of their nuclear plans. Nor does it mean that the Pasdaran are the same as ordinary joe Iranian in the street.

    Watch your step when you accuse me of taking Islamist money.

  19. George

    Oh dear, egg on face.

    Having said that they were doing their job, I think though until it was fully investigated the US should having kept it on the lowdown.

    As for electronic intelligence gathering, the VHF channel is unsecured and the 'ship to ship' US comms are always live so could be hacked any time (in theory of course). I doubt this was the reason but you can't rule anything out.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Called what in Iran?

    The Revolutionary guards are called "I f*ck your mother"? No wonder they always seem mad at everyone.

  21. Phil

    The US fail to understand humour

    I read the transcripts of the event and my first thought was that the speaker was taking the piss - the idea that it was someone nearby didn't occur to me, but it does feel eminently possible. After all, if I heard the crew of one of the most potent warships on the sea today seemingly fill their pants upon the approach of an unarmed bright blue speedboat I'd be inclined to take the piss too.

    In addition, I do find it hard to reconcile the "if Iran starts anything we'll wipe them out" rhetoric with the "oooooo a speedboat we're all going to die oh noes !!!! quick shoot first they're so dangerous !!!111eleven " comments.

    To be fair to the USN, maybe the two Iranians had really, really dangerous beards ?

  22. Peter Simpson

    A couple of small points

    - I don't see any weapons on those boats in the video

    - boats in the video were bright blue? Not a typical military color.

    - Gulf of Tonkin was at night, in a storm, by radar.

    Crazy Iranians. Must have been a few frazzled nerves on those ships, though. Good on the captains for keeping their wits about them. Lucky for those idiots in the speedboats.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @gotta love it

    > it was the Iranians trying to see just how provocative and violent they could get and still the media would make up excuses for them.

    Because of course the Iranian armed forces have transformed Canada into a festering corpse and are asking for a permanent seat in Club Warcrime, the Iranian Navy has two Carrier Battle Groups patrolling within sight of New York and Iranian politicians of left and right are making grunting, threatening noises about "all options being on the table" if the US won't come clean about what exactly is happening with those US nuclear installations.

    Clearly, the media are biased.

  24. Ed Arnold
    Black Helicopters

    A little perspective...

    Can we come off the 'Tonkin Gulf' fantasy for a moment and note that the Navy, despite having boats of sworn enemies come well within firing range of any number of genuinely dangerous anti-armour missles (200 meters is an easy shot for a Sagger), held their fire. Had they deployed a 20mm Gatling anti-ship battery, the Pasdaran would have been reduced to hamburger in the water in seconds.

    Both the US and GB naval units have shown enormous restraint in the face of deliberate provocation to avoid giving the Iranian nutcases in power the propaganda victory of having been 'attacked' by the Infidels, which the regime much desires. The surge in patriotic feeling among a currently disaffected populace, not to mention the raving of the BushCheneyHallibutonBloodForOil paranoids in the West, would help the Mullahs hang on to power a bit longer, maybe until they can beg borrow or develop the nukes they so fervently desire.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Been there, done that.

    As being in the region right now, and having gone through the Hormuz straight twice now, I'd have to say you'd have to be a complete moron to not know the difference between the "Iranian Navy" (which in itself is worse than actual pirates in the region) and the "Filipino Monkey's" that exist in the region. Having actually spoken to the Iranian Navy, the Royal Omanian Navy and Iranian Coast guard I would have to say they are just doing their job (unless you encounter the nutjob Revolutionay Guard) and are quite as bored as talking to us are we are at talking to them. We (as in coalition) take every single hail very seriously and are all reported to a central location for intelligence gathering purposes.

    The Iranians can be asshats, and trust me we're pretty freaked out in general transiting the Hormuz, and i've seen pictures of guys on jetski's with RPG's harassing ships that transit through, so I can see how everyone gets freaked out pretty quickly.

  26. Tom


    Has anyone considered that those boats could've been packed with explosives? I'd have probably fired after the 'explode' comment, those little fast 'unarmed' boats could've sunk one of those cruisers if they had been fitted out to do so, and saying 200m is about 7/8 seconds in a boat like that, they pose a very real threat at that distance.

    Add to this the behaviour in general, the object jettison ect, I can't see how anyone can seriously deffend the Iranians actions, they're lucky to be alive if you ask me.

  27. Richard Cartledge

    American jerk?

    The accent sounded like an American putting on a made-up foreign accent, it most certainly wasn't a Persian accent which would have sounded like Weee r caming aaat yoo, you weeel bloe up. Khuda hafiz.

  28. Shun F

    Re: Mr./Ms. Coward

    "there would have to have been some pretty powerful optics "coincidentally" scanning the area at this exact time."

    No, there would have had to have been some radio receivers around at this time. The article makes clear that folks sitting around the Strait are probably listening on those "hailing frequencies". They must have heard the US Navy going apeshit about the speedboats and decided to have a laugh/see if they could cause an international incident.

    You wouldn't need to see the incident to figure out what was going on. The Navy was pretty clear that they were attempting to communicate with several small ships in the area. Just transmit your prank on the same frequency, and you've got your story.

    From the antics of the speedboats, they did not appear to want to communicate, at all, or there would have been some shaky garbled explanations with the sound of a high-rpm motor in the background. The fact that the "prank call" came in pretty clear, without any background noise, and even the transmissions from the Navy ship came with a little background noise (I'm assuming a USN destroyer/frigate/cruiser can be a noisy place), leads me to believe that the "prank call" came from a place of relative quiet, and not from the open deck of a speedboat.

    What I want to know is: how would the United States react if Iranian gunboats came within 50 miles of Florida? Hey, they'd still be in international waters, but I doubt they'd get quite as good a reception as these USN folks got in the Straits of Hormuz.

  29. Michael

    Regarding the speedboat

    A lot of people are talking as if suicide bombers execute their missions in military fatigues, in a military jeep, etc etc etc.

    The fact that this was an unarmed speedboat doesn't make it appear any more benign. The van that took out the Oklahoma City federal building was "unarmed". The airlines that took out the WTC were "unarmed". Hell, for all intents and purposes, the boat that blew a hole in the USS Cole was "unarmed".

    You're an idiot to approach a warship without hailing them first, and given the radio transmissions, with a boat in the vicinity with uncertain intent, if I were the American watch officer, my sphincter would tighten up a little too.

  30. Martin Usher

    Anyone remember the Vincennes?

    Way back in the 80s a US warship that patrolling in the Gulf was hosting a TV news crew. Suddenly there was an alert, something had been launched from Iran and it was heading towards this guided missile destroyer. Much macho professional panic on the bridge as they aquired the target, launched some missiles and took the threat down. Then, in the after-adrenaline come-down someone stopped and thought for a minute -- was it an incoming missile or some regularily scheduled Airbus flight between Iran and Dubai?

    The footage ran on the news but has probably disappeared from view by now since it was really bad. Seeing a bunch of kids kill 290 people like that -- but then they were Iranians, not really people.

    It seems that not much has changed in the Gulf in a generation. Someone will start a war because they're not capable of stopping and thinking.

  31. David Frazer

    You know....

    It seems somewhat suspicious that those speed boats got so close to a USN Warship, especially after said Warship's having broadcast warnings to the speedboats. Very ballsy. Why would they risk something like that?

  32. Luther Blissett

    Two sides on every coin

    Usually the sides are a little different. One or both sides may be defaced, degraded, or difficult to read. And so on.

    So here is the incident from the Iranian pov, from a videotape broadcast on Iran's state-owned English-language Press TV channel.


  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @gotta love it

    "the automatic knee jerk defense of the Ayatollah's Iran,"

    He's dead you know.

    " the same Iran of hostage taking fame"

    That was 1979. Reagan was believed to have paid them to keep the hostages until after the election so he's be sure to win.

    Remember Iran-Contra? When Reagan sold arms to the Iranians to fund a secret war in Nicaragua? Thus confirming his commercial relationship with them?

    Yeh, I know it was a long time ago. So many people want to forget.

    "anti-American brigades.. treasonous media the hook....provocative and violent ...dropping off packages around ...warships... hostile situation, ...9-11"

    Yeh, lots of buzz words in that paragraph. I don't see the point of it though, as soon as we went to youtube it was clear they were little speedboats doing nothing particularly threatening in International waters off the coast of Iran. All you're doing by keeping pushing this is immunizing everyone to the future rhetoric. You'll have to use even more big, scary, ominous, words next time to have the same gravitas.

    "Is El Reg partially owned by Al Jazeera now?"

    We get Al Jazeera on satellite you know, it's just another news channel.

    "Does someone have to bribe Mr. Page to automatically doubt Americans (and even the British) even when against the historically provocative theocracy that Iran has been since my childhood?"

    Dude, those speedboats had only ONE outboard motor, the speedboat I water skied behind on my holiday had TWO. It was TWICE as scary!

    Do you know how silly you warmongers sound at this point? Even the Navy spokesman is distancing himself from this silliness.

  34. Paul
    Thumb Down

    RE: Anyone remember the Vincennes?

    "It seems that not much has changed in the Gulf in a generation."

    You know, I could have sworn that I saw an actual lack of gunfire in the video. That they didn't just take the threats at face value and blast the ships out of the water shows that at lot more has changed than you give them credit for.

    The crew onboard the warships showed one hell of alot more restraint than most people would have if they had speedboats seemingly coming at them and threats they'd be blown up coming over the radio, even if there was a chance it wasn't them.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    So when exactly did Iran blow up a few frigates unprovoked the last time round?

    Yeah, can't remember either. Fancy that.

    At least the next batch of hopeful retards are more easily convinced:

    Huckabee: "be prepared that the next things you see will be the gates of Hell.”

    Thompson: “One more step and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they’re looking forward to seeing"

    Giuliani: “This incident should wake a lot of people up"

    McCain: “Don’t think that this wasn’t a serious situation of the utmost seriousness”

  36. Anonymous Coward

    @ Shun F

    <What I want to know is: how would the United States react if Iranian gunboats came within 50 miles of Florida? Hey, they'd still be in international waters, but I doubt they'd get quite as good a reception as these USN folks got in the Straits of Hormuz.>

    Ummm the Soviets used to do this all of the time. I used to work someplace that had sensitive documents which also faced the Ocean. We were not to have anything in the outside (Ocean facing) offices because of this.

    Note that last I knew, the Russians still do this - so your point is?

  37. Keith T

    Ed, you've hit the nail on the head.

    The problem is the US has far too many sworn enemies.

    Having sworn enemies is a sign of immaturity.

    What did Iran do to the US? What did Iraq do to the US?

    Now look at Britain, France, Germany and Italy, and what they have done to each other.

    It took long enough, but they finally learned that nothing good comes from having a culture dominated by vengeance, imperialism, "our troops", "defending the homeland", and looking for silly excuses to go to war with oneanother.

    They finally learned to work together, to treat each other with respect, and it has paid off great for them.

  38. Joe Cooper
    Paris Hilton

    RE: Anyone remember the Vincennes?

    "It seems that not much has changed in the Gulf in a generation. Someone will start a war because they're not capable of stopping and thinking."

    But they didn't shoot them.

    Actual military boats showed up, swarmed them, and someone on the radio said they were about to explode. And the USN didn't even fire a warning shot.

    This is after the Cole was *successfully* attacked by a little pussy boat like these.

    And you're comparing that to shooting a completely unidentified flying object because "it's coming right for us".

    Shit, why stop there? Anyone remember the Rape of Nanking?

    Howabout Duran Duran?

  39. Dave Bell

    Sea Devils

    The Italians were doing this whole explosive-filled speedboat thing nearly sixty years ago. Attacked HMS York off Crete. It was the same outfit that sank a couple of battleships in Alexandria Harbour, and I'm sure Lewis knows far more of their history than I do, being in a related line of work.

    10th Flotilla MAS, wasn't it?

  40. heystoopid

    The real problem

    Unfortunately the real problem is the Yankee Navy is tripping over it's own stupidity and applying poor definitions as to what they falsely claim to be international waters when in fact any one checking any map including the UN official treaty ones clearly show that both the spokesperson from the US Navy and the ever dumb complacent always in my ass sucking up mass media reporters who are not doing the job they are paid to do !

    UN clearly defined the Iranian and Border with Oman as the midstream point and clearly shows no international waters period but also defines two shipping lanes of which convention has the out bound one on the Omani side of the line with the inbound lane partially on the Iranian side due to shoals and other problems !

    By standing International treaty conventions when any Armed Warship from any country enters or crosses the international sea boundary in order not to be mistaken as an illegally armed pirate vessel they are required to advise said country the time and the place and the transit time if they are following a defined shipping channel within that countries border ! The said country may send a patrol vessel to observe said transit and the said foreign naval vessel is bound by the same conventions not to interfere with duties of the said patrol vessel(s) as it could be considered either an act or war or deemed to be piracy whilst they are transiting the channel in question !

    Now the even dumber American Spokesperson from the US Navy has since falsely claimed this Shipping Channel is in international waters which it is not and never has been and never will be , the transit time of twenty minutes is the approximate time to clear the inbound channel on the Iranian waters within the straits ! They became even dumber by condensing it into four minutes and added some judicious sound effects enhancements undoubtedly !

    The truly sad part about it is the effect that the even dumber mass media reporters have failed to ask the correct appropriate probing questions if properly asked would show the spokesperson from the US Navy to be telling an extraordinary number of lies in this case !

    There are three versions of the truth here , unfortunately the one the Yankee Navy is claiming to be fact has so many vast holes and most information they have told the public so far is just one of numerous bad lies dressed in absolute fiction !

    Sadly just another modern day version of the USS Turner Joy !

    It would be truly hilarious if some one on an inbound tanker bridge wing also filmed this incident at the same time given the large numbers of vessels within the channel at any one time !

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I would have expected the warships to have some form of Automatic Direction Finding equipment either on the bridge or as part of the Electronic Warfare equipment. Three ships should have been able to quite quickly distinguish between a close fast moving source and a more distant fixed or slow moving source.

  42. Tom Oliva

    Salty Dog

    A tactic used to my certain knowledge by irritated watch keepers to shut up Filipino Monkey is >cue bad/truly awful American accent and clipped delivery on Ch16 < "Vessel at (position) this is American warship on your starboard bow... state your intention!" - blissful silence.

    Gotta agree with all the comments about idiot mass media reporters and clueless USN press/PR - if they can beat + twist a story as much as this one's been tortured - what about the rest of the "news"?

    Oh, and these guys with speedboats, khaki bandannas and ray-bans are notoriously adrenaline fueled + trigger happy - being on the receiving end of .50 cal machine gun is non - trivial as a number of my commercial shipping acquaintances can confirm... And of course, our American cousins are no strangers to mis-reading the situation + screwing up in the heat of the moment as others have pointed out - the worrying thing in their case is - pull the trigger=promotion, don't pull the trigger=retirement.

  43. Michael P

    A Voice From Beyond...

    "I am coming to you... you will explode after a few minutes."

    Ladies and.. well.. this is just for the ladies..

    The Velvet Voice,

    Mr Barry White

  44. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    RE: David Tonhofer, Martin Usher, Keith T

    RE: David Tonhofer - the Iranians have a long history of attacking commercial shipping in the Gulf and Straits using small craft usually referred to as "Boghammers", though that name really applies to a Swedish company's product. They have mounted everything from machine-guns up through anti-tank missiles to multiple rocket launchers like the Chinese Type 63. They usually used them to attack tankers collecting oil from Iraqi refineries during the Gulf War, but they have also used them to harass and attack US and NATO warships operating in the Gulf under UN mandates. A modern warship does not have armour like WW2 craft, so even light rockets can do serious damage, especially if the attackers use swarm tactics to overload the defence. There record of almost suicidal attacks on unarmed tankers are a well recorded, as is their oft-repeated desire to kill Americans. Personally, I think the USN showed great restraint.

    RE Martin Usher - the Vicennes incident is completely different, the USN ships in the area were operating to protect unarmed commercial tankers from Iranian Boghammer and air attacks. You could just as easily claim that if the Iranians hadn't been in the habit of attacking commercial shipping then the USS Vincennes wouldn't have been there. The Iranian Airbus (Flight 655) was 27 minutes late, carried an Iranian Air Force IDF device to stop Iranian Hawk crews shooting it down (and so gave off the electronic signature of an Iranian military aircraft), and it flew out from an airport that was base to Iranian F-14s. The USS Vincennes tried to establish radio contact four times, then went to missiles AFTER Flight 655 had traveled well inside the threat perimeter. At no time did the Iranian authorities, who were no doubt listening to the USN naval chatter, try to pass on the Vincenne's warnings or try to warn Flight 655 to change course. The Vincennes's commander had a duty to his crew and unfortunately it meant he had to take the threat seriously.

    Keith T - actually I took it as a sign that the US was willing to defend its own and their interests, and those of their friends. If you find that so bad and think those "enemy" nations are so wonderful, please feel free to emigrate to one of those enemy nations and then see how easy it is to read Indymedia on their restricted internet ....

    Ever since the USN gave the Iranian Navy a kicking during Operation Praying Mantis in 1988, the Iranians (especially the Revolting Guard) have been itching to strike at the USN. Sooner or later, one of their little games will end in tears for one side or the other or both.

  45. Tsu Dho Nimh

    VHF goes a long way

    My. Coward:

    "Of course, we're supposed to believe, that at the point where this occurred, some high-power transmitter equipped "prankster" was watching that part of the sea and just happened to catch the Iranians dropping off packages and racing around warships in an already hostile situation, and figured that time was perfect for setting up this whole situation."

    No, anyone within radio range who was listening could have picked up on the VHF traffic and made comments. Decades ago, a friend was involved in a standoff between his survey ship (dead in the water, with instruments and divers down) and a couple of small Russian warships in the skinny part of the Bering Strait. Their traffic could be heard all the way down to the Aleutians.

    BTW, they made the Russian ships back off by lobbing packets of girlie magazines, candy bars and Coca-Cola onto their decks. The sailors were delighted, the coimmissars were not.

  46. JohnG Silver badge

    It is not the first incident...

    There have been a few incidents recently, one of which did involve a USN ship firing warning shots to ward off small Iranian boats:

    The Iranians (or maybe just their president) seem hell-bent on having a war with the US and given the amount of oil carried through the Straits, provoking some kind of incident there might be a good way to kick things off.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Looks like we have the usual division into "professionals" and "bigmouths"

    From the same article on Washington Post:


    After passing the white objects, commanders on the USS Port Royal and its accompanying destroyer and frigate decided there was so little danger from the objects that they did not bother to radio other ships to warn them, the officials said.

    (...) "When they passed, the ships saw that they were floating and light, that they were not heavy or something that would have caused damage," such as a mine, said Cmdr. Lydia Robertson, a spokeswoman for the Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Gulf.


    But the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, said the incident reflects Iran's shift to small craft that can aggressively menace larger naval vessels. "It's clearly strategically where the Iranian military has gone," Mullen said.


    The Navy announced a few hours later that two other incidents occurred last month in which its ships had close calls with Iranian speedboats. On Dec. 19, the USS Whidbey Island fired warning shots when a single Iranian boat came within 500 yards of it in the strait. On Dec. 22, the USS Carr emitted warning blasts as three Iranian vessels sped close by in the same area, a Navy official said. (...) Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff said U.S. and Revolutionary Guard naval units come across each other "regularly."


    "The incident ought to remind us all just how real is the threat posed by Iran and just how ready we are to meet that threat if it comes to it," Mullen told reporters yesterday.

  48. Joseph Helenihi
    Thumb Up

    Why the USN did not fire on the speedboats

    Just a theory here, but, if you really *are* driving a speedboat full of explosives with the full intent of attack/suicide, in order for your mission to succeed, you certainly don't announce your intention to do so over the radio while still on approach.

    Suicide bombers are complete a**hats, but don't demonstrate stupidity on the scale of "nya, nya, nya, here I come to blow you up". Some provocation starting twit on Channel 16 on the other hand, well there you go.

    Cudos to the USN for not falling for this and holding their fire.

  49. Frank Bough
    Thumb Down

    Reality Check Time

    "Both the US and GB naval units have shown enormous restraint in the face of deliberate provocation to avoid giving the Iranian nutcases in power the propaganda victory of having been 'attacked' by the Infidels, which the regime much desires."

    Both the US and UK are pissing around in heavily armed warships just a few miles off the Iranian coast - the USA would be at DEFCON 2 if the Chinese navy were doing exercises off Catalina Island. The Iranian régime might be twats, but try and imagine what life would be like if YOUR country was under constant threat from the largest and most aggressive armed forces in the world. Let's not even mention Iran Air 655...

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Like anyone took this seriously.

    Since the lies from the Iraq war, I don't know a single person that actually believes anything to come from the US gov.

    It reminds me of the boy who cried wolf, every single whitehouse press release is taken with a pince of salt. This is a real pity, coz I actually liked US politics before Cheney & Rumsfeld - Bush is just another puppet like Reagan. He is irrelevant.

    Yes I know Rummy is well gone...


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