iran2A U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship fired three warning shots at an Iranian ship that sailed within 200 yards in the Northern Persian Gulf Wednesday after one of four close calls this week involving U.S. and Iranian vessels, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday.

The USS Squall fired the shots, according to the official.

On Tuesday, four Iranian small boats “harassed the USS Nitze”, sailing near the guided missile destroyer in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. Navy official told Fox News.

Other close calls this week involved the USS Tempest and USS Stout, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters Thursday. The Pentagon described the incidents as “unsafe and unprofessional.”

If it seems like the Iranian military has been emboldened by the $400 million ransom we paid for 10 illegally detained US Sailors, or the $150 billion freed up for Iran’s use after the Obama nuclear deal; you’re absolutely right.  Iran has always been ornery when it comes to the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, in general.

iran1The Strait of Hormuz is a strait between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world’s most strategically important choke points. On the north coast lies Iran, and on the south coast the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman. At its narrowest, the strait has a width of 29 nautical miles (54 km).

About 20% of the world’s petroleum (about 35% of the petroleum traded by sea) passes through the strait, making it a highly important strategic location for international trade.

On 18 April 1988, the U.S. Navy waged a one-day battle against Iranian forces in and around the strait. The battle, dubbed Operation Praying Mantis by the U.S., was launched in retaliation for the USS Samuel B. Roberts striking a mine laid in the channel by Iran on April 14th. U.S. forces sank one frigate, one gunboat, and up to six armed speedboats, as well as seriously damaging a second frigate.