Friday Iran said it flew a surveillance drone over a U.S. aircraft carrier and took “precise” photographs as part of an ongoing naval drill, as Iranian TV broadcasted video purportedly showing the incident.The U.S. Navy confirmed to Fox News that an unarmed Iranian drone flew “directly over” the USS Harry Truman earlier this month on Jan. 12, but did not say whether it was the same incident.
This all came on the same day Iran captured 10 U.S. Navy sailors accused of “trespassing.” It also was less than a week before the U.S. and European nations lifted sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, but months after their initial deal was signed.
A video circulating on social media linked to Iranian news agencies — purportedly taken from a drone — shows a bird’s eye view of an aircraft carrier moving in water, with multiple planes parked on its deck.
The footage later zoomed into a row of fighter jets. There were no identifying marks visible on the carrier.
“I am not in a position to confirm the Iranian video or if the event described in Iranian media reports is the one from Jan. 12,” said Commander Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet based in Bahrain. “As previously noted, we are confident in our ability to respond appropriately as the situation dictates and will defend ourselves should that prove necessary.”
The drone “posed no danger to the ship” as the unmanned aircraft was unarmed and the carrier wasn’t conducting flight operations at the time.
When the carrier transited the Strait of Hormuz in late December, Iranian missile boats launched unguided rockets 1,500 yards away from the U.S. aircraft carrier. The Navy called the act “highly provocative” at the time.
The captured U.S. Navy sailors had entered Iranian territorial waters near Farsi Island, an outpost in the middle of the Persian Gulf that has been used as a base for Revolutionary Guard speedboats since the 1980s. The sailors were released within a day, though Iranian state media aired footage of the sailors’ capture, angering U.S. politicians.
The report by state television said the drone flight occurred on the third day of the naval exercise, suggesting it happened Friday. Later, its website and the semi-official Fars news agency, which is close to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, published footage it said was of the drone’s flight.
The Strait of Hormuz, which sees nearly a third of all oil traded by sea pass through it, has been the scene of past confrontations between America and Iran, including a one-day naval battle in 1988.