These “saildrones” are used by the US Navy for surveillance and intelligence missions near the coast.
An Iranian navy flotilla briefly seized two unmanned US military vessels in the Red Sea, state television reported on Friday. “The Iranian Navy’s destroyer Jamaran encountered several US military unmanned research vessels on the international sea route on Thursday while carrying out a counter-terrorism mission in the Red Sea,” the television said, referring to counter-terrorism operations. pirates in this area and in the Gulf of Aden.
She added that the flotilla, “after warning an American destroyer twice, seized these remote-controlled craft to prevent possible accidents.” “Once the passage of international shipping was secured, the flotilla released the two boats,” the television continued, broadcasting a video showing Iranian soldiers putting the two American ships back to sea.
The US Navy has denied being “warned” by the Iranian Navy. “Around 2:00 p.m. local time on September 1, the 5th Fleet saw an Iranian vessel approach the two unmanned vessels and seize them,” the US Navy said in a statement. Two destroyers, the USS Nitze and the USS Delbert D. Black, immediately went to the scene and “maintained communication with the Iranian warship to defuse the situation and recover the Saildrones,” the statement said.
“The Iranian vessel returned the Saildrones at 8:00 a.m. on September 2,” the statement added. The Saildrone is a small floating machine equipped with a rigid wing and solar panels which ensure its autonomy for a very long time. Full of sensors, it can be used for meteorological purposes, but the US Navy also uses it for coastal surveillance missions.
In a similar incident, the Pentagon said on Tuesday that an Iranian vessel seized an unmanned US military craft in the Gulf but released it after a navy patrol boat and helicopter deployed to the scene. American. Iran’s navy also said on Friday that the same flotilla foiled a pirate attack on one of its merchant ships in the Red Sea the day before, for the second time in less than a month.
Like other countries that use the sea route through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, Iran has boosted its naval presence in the Gulf of Aden after a wave of attacks by Somalia-based pirates between 2000 and 2011.