WASHINGTON — An Iranian naval patrol boat shined a laser at a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter flying over the Strait of Hormuz in what officials said was an unsafe encounter.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban said Wednesday that the Iranian vessel also turned its spotlight on two Navy ships that were moving through the strait on Tuesday. Urban, a U.S. Fifth Fleet spokesman, said the Iranian boat came within 800 yards of the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship, and scanned it from bow to stern with the spotlight. It also shined the light on the USS Cole, a guided missile destroyer.
The Marine CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopter automatically fired flares in response to the laser. No one was injured and there was no damage to the ships.
A third American vessel, the USNS Washington Chambers cargo ship, was accompanying the others but was not affected.
Urban said the action was considered unsafe because "illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous as it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and can be disorienting to pilots using night vision goggles."