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US aircraft carrier has close encounter with Iranian patrol boat

An Iranian patrol boat approached a U.S. aircraft carrier, backing down within two miles from the USS Abraham Lincoln. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports from the USS Abraham Lincoln.

ABOARD THE USS ABRAHAM  LINCOLN – A U.S. aircraft carrier sailing through the strategic Strait of Hormuz had a close encounter with an Iranian vessel Tuesday.

The Iranian navy patrol boat came within two miles of the USS Abraham Lincoln, part of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, as it sailed through the strait with the destroyer Cape St. George and a guided missile cruiser.

The Iranian military came out for a look at the ships, first sending a reconnaissance flight and then sending the Iranian patrol boat.

The commander of the USS Abraham Lincoln, Capt. John Alexander, said such close encounters “could eventually lead to a fatal miscalculation.”

“They have the ability to take a shot at me at some point, and I worry about it,” Alexander told NBC News.

Because of strong  U.S. sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, Iran has threatened to shut down the strait and attack U.S. warships. Oil tankers carry a fifth of the world's oil supply through the strait, only about 30 miles across at its narrowest point.

Iran has also amassed Revolutionary Guard fast boats, submarines and, along the shoreline, anti-ship cruise missiles.  

Vice Admiral Mark Fox, commander of the 5th Fleet, said, “We’re ready today. This is the world we live in.”

Fox said Sunday that Iran had built up its naval forces in the Gulf and prepared boats that could be used in suicide attacks, but the U.S. Navy could prevent it from blocking the Strait of Hormuz.

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet always has at least one supercarrier at sea accompanied by scores of jets and a fleet of frigates and destroyers.

NBC's Jim Miklaszewski and Reuters contributed to this report.