USA/Iran — Official Praises Crew’s Response to Iranian Aircraft

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)