In the latest incident of high-seas tension between the U.S. and Iran, a Navy destroyer fired a series of warning shots at four Iranian vessels on Sunday after the Islamic Republic's boats closed in at a high rate of speed in the Strait of Hormuz, Fox News confirmed.
The USS Mahan tried to order the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard boats to stop via radio communication, but the vessels didn’t respond to the request, prompting the destroyer to fire three warning flares, a U.S. defense official said.
In addition, a Navy helicopter dropped a smoke float.
The Iranian boats sailed within 900 yards of the Mahan, which had been escorting two U.S. ships.
In recent days Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps has conducted an annual exercise in the strait simulating maneuvers necessary to shut down the entrance to the Persian Gulf.
Sunday's incident was only the most recent Iranian provocation of U.S. ships or aircraft in the region. Among the notable incidents:
- In late November, an Iranian small boat in the Strait of Hormuz trained a machine gun on a U.S. Navy helicopter.
- U.S. warships have been targeted by rebels in Yemen who are being supplied and supported by Iran.
- In September, Iran threatened to shoot down Navy aircraft it said was encroaching on its airspace.
- In early September, seven Iranian boats harassed a U.S. Navy ship in the Persian Gulf.
- The first half of 2016 saw 19 "dangerous interactions" with the Iranians, according to a U.S. Navy report.
Fox News recently flew out to the USS George H. W. Bush to see her final work ups in the Atlantic before deploying. The commanding officer of the ship said Iran's behavior in the past year amounted to "school yard antics."
There are currently no U.S. aircraft carriers deployed in the Middle East after the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to Norfolk and the USS George H. W. Bush had its deployment delayed.
There is, however, a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship with helicopters, jets and more than 1,000 marines in the region.
--Fox News's Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.