The US Navy thwarted an Iranian attempt to steal a Saildrone Explorer from international waters in the Arabian Sea on Monday. The IRGC ship Shahid Baziar latched onto the drone and attempted to tow it when the USS Thunderbolt stopped them. An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from Sea Combat Squadron 26 in Bahrain was also dispatched.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy was in the process of towing the drone, which belongs to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet at 11 p.m. local time when the American Navy immediately sent out the nearby Navy coastal ship USS Thunderbolt. The 5th Fleet also repeatedly called Iranian officials, who then let the drone go.
“IRGCN’s actions were flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in a statement. “U.S. naval forces remain vigilant and will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows while promoting rules-based international order throughout the region.”
After disconnecting the towing line, the Iranian vessel, support ship Shahid Baziar, left the area about four hours later, U.S. Navy Forces Central Command Public Affairs said. The U.S. Navy then “resumed operations without further incident.
According to the 5th Fleet, the (USV- Unmanned surface Vessel) Saildrone Explorer is 23 feet long, and 16 feet in height. It is dependent on wind and solar power. It was first launched on December 12 in the Sea of Aqaba. The one Iran attempted to steal was launched in the Arabian Sea back in January in an expansion of unmanned systems. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) has been tasked with integrating unmanned systems into Naval operations. The drone is primarily used for scientific data collection and ocean mapping. It is equipped with an onboard computer and Artificial intelligence capabilities. The Iranians may have hoped to snag those specific technologies, but the US Navy thwarted them.
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