"Officers were 'in the process' of giving the order to fire when the Iranians abruptly turned away."
Had the U.S. ship fired, chances are the Iranians would then put the propaganda mill into overdrive, claiming the Great Satan fired on a retreating ship. And they might have a few more "martyrs" to boot-- sacrificing a handful of personnel in a move for domestic and international sympathy, particularly in the Islamic world. An insane act of brinksmanship to be sure, and the question remains: Are they crazy enough to try again? (Well, they were crazy enough to try it once.) "Iranian ships 'harass' U.S. Navy, officials say," by Barbara Starr for CNN:
(CNN) -- The U.S. military reported Monday on a "significant" confrontation involving five Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats that "harrassed and provoked" three U.S. naval ships in international waters over the weekend.
U.S. military officials said the incident occurred Saturday night in the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow shipping channel leading in and out of the Persian Gulf.
The five Iranian ships made "threatening" moves -- in one case coming within 200 yards of a U.S. ship, the U.S. officials said.
In one radio transmission, the Iranians told the U.S. Navy: "I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes," the U.S. military officials told CNN.
When the U.S. ships heard that radio transmission, they manned their gun positions and officers were "in the process" of giving the order to fire when the Iranians abruptly turned away, the U.S. officials said.
No shots were fired and no one was injured in the confrontation.
One of the Iranian ships had been dropping white boxes into the water in front of the U.S. ships, the officials told CNN.
No additional details were immediately available.
In November, the U.S. military reported that Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps had taken command of that country's naval operations in the Persian Gulf.