Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard seized an American sea drone Tuesday in the Persian Gulf and tried to tow it away, only releasing the unmanned vessel when a U.S. Navy warship and helicopter approached, officials said.
The incident marks the first time the Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet’s new drone task force has been targeted by Iran.
While the interception ended without incident, tensions remain high between Washington and Tehran as negotiations over the Islamic Republic’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers hang in the balance.
The Guard’s Shahid Baziar warship attached a line to the Saildrone Explorer in the central part of the Persian Gulf in international waters late Monday night, said Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a 5th Fleet spokesman. The vessel then began towing the Saildrone Explorer, which carries cameras, radars and sensors for remotely monitoring the sea, Hawkins said.