Iran Caught Making off with a USN Unmanned Surface Vessel

By Dr. Ann Griffiths, 1 September 2022

The US Naval Forces Central Command reported that on the night of 29-30 August it prevented the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) Iran from making off with a USN unmanned surface vessel (USV). An IRGCN support vessel was seen towing a Saildrone Explorer USV, apparently in international waters. USS Thunderbolt was nearby and responded and a Sea Hawk helicopter was sent from Bahrain. Communication with the IRGCN ship, plus the reinforcements, convinced the Iranian ship to disconnect the tow line and depart. This incident raises some interesting questions. Was this perchance just an innocent mistake – i.e., the IRGCN ship sees something floating in busy sea lanes and decides to remove it? Was it a blatant attempt to steal the USV so that Iran could reverse engineer it and produce its own similar technology? Did this happen at the direction of the Iranian government? Or is it a sign that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is operating out of the control of the Iranian government? And what will this incident do to the almost-complete negotiations regarding Iran’s development of nuclear weapons? See an account of the incident at https://www.defenseone.com/threats/2022/08/iranian-navy-tries-steal-us-unmanned-vessel-sea/376513/

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