US Navy warns Gulf mariners to keep distance from US warships: media


USS John S. McCain (L) is seen at sea off Singapore's Changi Naval Base, on Aug. 21, 2017. (Photo: Xinhua)

WASHINGTON, May 19 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Navy on Tuesday issued a warning to mariners in the Mideast to stay 100 meters away from U.S. warships or risk being "subject to lawful defensive measures," according to media reports.

The warning notice said that armed vessels approaching within 100 meters of a U.S. naval vessel might be interpreted as a threat and subject to lawful defensive measures. Reuters first reported the notice.

The warning, which appeared to be aiming at Iran, followed U.S. President Donald Trump's threat last month to destroy any Iranian gunboats if they harass U.S. ships at sea.

"I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea," Trump sent his warning in a tweet.

Abolfazl Shekarchi, a spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces, dismissed Trump's threat as "psychological warfare" and criticized the United States for "causing disturbance" in the Gulf.

The United States and Iran have been trading blame over unprofessional maneuvers in the Gulf waters. The U.S. Navy reported in mid-April that 11 Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy vessels "repeatedly conducted dangerous & harassing approaches against U.S. naval ships operating in international waters of the North Arabian Gulf."

The IRGC Navy also accused the U.S. naval forces of repeatedly "unprofessional" manner in the Gulf, threatening regional peace, and giving rise to new risks.