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For the second time in just weeks, the United States Navy is accusing Iran of harassing one of its vessels in international waters. But where four Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fast attack boats harassed the destroyer USS Nitze late last month, this time seven fast attackers from the Republican Guard tailed the Cyclone-class coastal patrol boat USS Firebolt (above, foreground) on September 4.

According to USNI News, three of the Iranian boats matched the Firebolt's course and speed, at around 500 yards, before another fast attack boat stopped directly in front of the US boat. The Firebolt had to take evasive action to avoid a collision, coming within 100 yards of the Republican Guard boat, a US official confirmed.

"This situation presented a drastically increased risk of collision, and Firebolt then maneuvered to narrowly avoid the FIAC at a range of 100 yards before departing the area," a Navy official told Navy Times.

Like in the Nitze incident, the Iranians ignored all three of the Firebolt's hailing attempts. USNI reports the Republican Guard uncovered and manned the boats' weapons, but didn't train them on a target.

"The Iranians' unsafe maneuvers near a United States ship operating in accordance with international law while transiting in international waters created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures by Firebolt," US officials said in a statement. "This type of incident would have led NAVCENT to recommend that the State Department deliver a diplomatic message of protest if this interaction had been with a country with which the United States had an official diplomatic relationship."

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