WASHINGTON, April 29, 2010 — Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell today credited the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower for its disciplined response last week when an Iranian military aircraft flew within 1,000 yards of it in the Gulf of Oman.
An Iranian navy maritime patrol aircraft flew near the carrier April 21 as it had finished routine replenishment-at-sea operations, a Navy official confirmed on background. The aircraft remained in the area for about 20 minutes before it flew away.
The incident occurred as Iranian forces were preparing to conduct exercises in the Gulf.
Morrell played down the incident, saying close encounters aren’t all that unusual in the narrow, heavily trafficked Strait of Hormuz. “We operate there. They operate there. Lots of people operate there,” he said. “I don’t think … our crews were alarmed by it. I don’t think anybody [at the Pentagon] is too worked up about it.”
There’s been no communication between the United States and Iran about the incident, but Morrell said if the military wanted to contact the Iranians about the incident it would find a way to do so. “But I don’t think it is of concern to the Navy … nor anybody else in this building,” he said.
Morrell said the Eisenhower crew’s restraint during the incident speaks volumes.
“Thankfully, our crews are incredibly well trained, incredibly disciplined,” he said. “And they are very aware of the rules of engagement and the procedures that … should be taken in circumstances like this, and do an incredible job at avoiding … risks of accidental or incidental conflict.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)