U.S. Navy ship fires at boat in Persian Gulf
US Navy file photograph of the USNS Rappahannock.
July 16th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

U.S. Navy ship fires at boat in Persian Gulf

By Barbara Starr

A U.S. military supply ship fired Monday at a small boat in the Persian Gulf after it came too close, apparently killing one person on board, two U.S. officials said.

The USNS Rappahannock, a fuel resupply ship, fired on what the officials called a "small, white pleasure craft" 10 miles from the Dubai port of Jebel Ali.

The small boat appeared to be headed for that port, the officials said, adding that their information was preliminary.  The U.S. ship verbally warned the smaller boat when it was 1,200 yards away and fired at least one warning shot before the decision was made to fire shots to disable the boat, the officials said."In accordance with Navy force protection procedures, the sailors on the USNS Rappahannock ... used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force," the Navy said in a statement.

"The U.S. crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessel's operators to turn away from their deliberate approach. When those efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel, the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a .50-caliber machine gun."

Officials described the course of events as standard procedures when a small boat gets too close to a U.S. Navy ship.

The officials, who would not be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation, also described the small boat as having made a series of maneuvers, but emphasized they were waiting for more details about what exactly happened.

The incident is under investigation.


Filed under: Middle East • Navy
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Maxwell Rotermund

    Both environmental and animal rights factions have criticized bass fishing in recent years for being both harmful to native species and cruel to the bass themselves. Most bass are no longer caught for sustenance, but simply as a sport, and largemouth bass are generally let go after the catch.;;

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    May 6, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Reply
  2. 66th Strategic Command & Operations Unit.

    If a U.S naval vessel of the crew are firing at you then I'm pretty sure you've ignored the other warnings and probably ran into your own death.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:46 am | Reply
  3. Fleet-Dragon

    i agree grooveclubhouse.... if you cannot understand being shot at means "go the hell away!" then you aint competent to be sailing the seas...

    July 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  4. Tyler

    The Indians should take their own advice with their caste system as they seem to have forgotten their place in the world. Don't speed up towards U.S. naval. The U.S. was being nice to you by not using a missile. Now stop lying about getting no warning.

    July 17, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  5. Kramer

    If Indians think they will follow the footsteps of Al Qaeda, they are sadly mistaken. We will take you out in a second. We have learned our lessons and will convert you to dust if you mess with Americans in any part of the world. Understood?

    July 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  6. McAllister

    If these Indian terrorists come close to our US Navy Ships we will turn India into a landfill. We Americans have zero tolerance with our security and especially those countries like India who is sucking up a lot of our taxpayer resources. So giddy up

    July 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Reply
    • mike

      No tolerance? Pakistans been taking our money for years and obviously were getting nothing out of it.

      July 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  7. Cheese Wonton

    The irony in this is that three or so years ago the Indian Navy mistook a Thai fishing boat as a mother ship for Somalie pirates. The Thai fishing boat had indeed been hijacked by Somaile pirates and was actively engaged in piracy in the North Arabian Sea when it encounted the Indian Navy combat ship. The Indians did not realize the Somalies had the Thai crew tied up inside their boat when the Indian crew opened fire on it and sank it.
    If you have never been out in that part of the world during the summer, with 100 degree temps and very nearly 100 percent humidity, with air that is almost liquid, poor visibility and all the boats look nothing like you accustomed to seeing in the developed world, you follow your rules of engagement to the letter and the other boat keeps coming at you, you do not have any idea what that crew faced.

    July 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Reply
    • McAllister

      Indian navy is a joke and should be sailing ships in a bath tub. What is your point?

      July 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply
      • 11BangBang

        Erm, the Indian Navy is not a joke: after the United States and France, it has some of the world's largest aircraft carriers. They've been buying up Russian and Chinese designs for ages now. Their navy is nothing to sneer at... though it cannot compete with an American carrier battle group.

        July 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  8. T-Bone Thakur

    Mumbai and Chennai are the illegal cricket gambling capitals of the world. Cash Flows from these operations are being siphoned off by the Indian government to finance terrorists globally, particularly in the region. This off the book financing is also being used, in the case of sales of illegal booze, to finance terrorism. This way the indians are able to dodge the american financial radar.The american congressional politicians have been alerted to the double game Indians are playing

    July 17, 2012 at 11:25 am | Reply
    • Ha

      Pakistan one of the 3 countries in the world where Polio still exists..no one needs to be alerted on that...everyone knows what a sithole it is...still you refuse to vaccinate kids since you think its an american ploy...hahahha

      July 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Reply
      • Medieval India ©

        Bizarre Health Rituals in India Show Dangerous Side of Tradition

        In what has got to be on of the most vile and disturbing things ever put to print, a man in eastern India was arrested for his unconventional and downright insane method of curing the common cold in children.
        50-year old Jamun Yadav, who considers himself to be a demigod of the Hindu faith, believes he can channel and transfer divine energy through his feet, which has lead to him standing on the necks and throats of young children suffering from your average run-of-the-mill cold.
        When asked about them, the guru claimed that he was merely speaking for God, and as such needs no other defense.

        July 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
      • Ha

        Whatever moron Paki..... these rituals affect Indians only thats an internal problem...they dont go to other countries and kill innocent people nor do they give mansions to subhuman creatures like OBL, Hafiz Saeed and Zaid Hamid

        July 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
      • McAllister

        @ Ha. Whatever happens in India is the world's problem especially USA. We are giving you a ton of aid and expect you to follow basic human rights protocols. Period. Second, get over your obsession with Pakistan. It is the new regional leader after you folks (Indians) screwed up and Americans had to eat crow.

        July 17, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  9. S. Geoffrey Marcus

    It was probably apparent that these were Indian terrorists and were showing aggresive posture to US Navy despite warnings. US Navy does not take crap from any one ...period.

    July 17, 2012 at 11:20 am | Reply
    • Ha

      so a fisherman is a terrorist ....what if that fisherman was all white christian male...is he still a terrorist or a patriotic american....

      July 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Reply
      • Cheese Wonton

        You would have to have sailed in that region to know what the boats look like. Don't imagine you will see anything that resembles a fishing boat you might find in the US. The boats in the North Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf use designs that pre-date the advent of steam propulsion. Big fat rolly-polly things that could be a fishing boat, or a small cargo craft, or maybe a passenger ferry, and maybe all three. They don't have the superstructure forward and fishing booms aft like a North American trawler would. They throw nets over the side, but those would not be in the water in transit.
        Iranian Revolutionary Guards use all kinds of water craft, from fishing boats to speed boats, semi-rigid inflatables, even old motor whale boats to harasss USN and allied ships. You don't know it but when I served out there the IRG guys challenged US and NATO ships pretty much weekly and got hosed out of the water pretty much weekly. You never knew what boat had bad guys on it and we were trained to fly our helos in ways that the bad guys could not get a lock on us. You went out of your way to stay away from small craft because there had been instances of small craft firing shoulder fired missiles at our helos operating in international waters.
        The crew of the USS Cole was not permitted to shoot at that suicide boat, or any boat, unless they fired first. We can all see the weakness in those rules of engagement. Now we take more precautions, and rightly so. You cannot tell the bad guys from the good guys out there just from the type of watercraft they use.

        July 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
      • Ha

        I agree cheese wanton....but isnt killing innocent people going against your long term objective of peace and stability.....I do not disagree to the fact that US NAvy has some procedures and rightly so...but there has to be some accountability too...you have to do something about hte innocent man killed thats all.

        July 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  10. Ha

    According to neutral news sources...there were no warning shots...these fishermen were trying to go around the boat since they did not want to be in its way...they said they been fishing for 10 years now and they know all the warning signs...apparently some trigger happy civilian shot them without any warning shots....and everyone knows how paranoid americans are which makes them pull the trigger without thinking

    1. Iran passenger jet shot down by US navy
    2. Unarmed black kid shot by a community gaurd
    3. Civilian Massacre in afghanistan by one US Trooper

    July 17, 2012 at 10:37 am | Reply
    • Adam Al Araby

      These waters are infested with Indian terrorists and smugglers. Drugs, gold, arms and ammunition are being freely smuggled. This is one of the sources of financing terrorists by Indians. US Armed Forces will have zero tolerance for anyone posing a danger to its assets.

      July 17, 2012 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • 11BangBang

      Guess all of those other terrorist incidents don't matter eh? Things like:

      1) USS COLE (DDG-67)
      2) Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam
      3) September 11th
      4) Lockerbie bombing
      5) Berlin Discotheque bombing
      6) Khobar Towers
      7) 1993 WTC bombing
      et al ad infinitum.

      Yeah, because you're completely blameless.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Reply
      • Ha

        First of all find any terrorist incident against United States that had Indian citizens involved in it...your list is true but that doesnt mean you will keep on killing people who are not involved ....and as for blame game , imagine how you would feel if you find russian /chinese bases in your country....
        All i am saying is that incidents like these are horrible when it comes to American P.R worldwide and also leads to revenge by jobless people against more innocents...the cycle continues and if you are truly powerful then you will know when to stop poking others.

        July 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
      • 11BangBang

        Well, the key in your statement is: "Your list is true"...

        We have been stung more than once because of overly-strict Rules of Engagement. In the choice between our troops' and civilians' safety and the well-being of people who have been warned time and again about their actions... THERE IS NO CHOICE. You would make the same choice, I believe.

        July 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • DJ

      GFYS! Did you even think before you wrote what you wrote?

      July 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Reply
    • Cheese Wonton

      The civilian crew cannot use fire arms per international law. There is a team of US Navy personnel on board trained to defend the ship from attackers and pirates. That is who did the shooting. They are not "trigger happy", they have well defined rules of engagement to follow and they do not fire without authorization from much farther up the chain of command. Use of deadly force decisions are not delegated to these teams.
      In the case of Iran Air Flight 665, USS Vincennes was engaged in a running gun battle with a half dozen IRG speed boats. The helicopter from the frigate USS Bagley was fired on by one of these craft while in international waters. Bagely gave these boats chase, following them into Iranian waters to do so, which is allowed by the rules of engagement. In the mid to late 1980's it was pretty routine for IRG to come out and fire on US and allied naval vessels. The Iranians also attacked and sank quite a few oil tankers in retaliation for Saudi and Kuwaiti support of Iraqs war against Iran. In this instance Vincennes came to Bagely assistance when the air liner took off from Bandar Abbas, a joint use airport, civil and military. The crew of Vincennes, in the heat of battle, while firing on the IRG craft, mistook the airliner for an IAF F-14 and shot it down. What most uninformed critics like you never mention is that it fell to the crew of the Vincennes to pick the bodies and wreckage out of the water. No one felt worse than that crew afterwards. But unless you have ever been out there on a combat ship under those conditions you would not understand what was going on or why.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  11. raika45

    They shot at a small boat 1200 yards away? What does the US navy think? You own the ocean? No wonder you have so few friends in this world.Most other pseudo friends depend on your cash handouts.Pity the family of the poor Indian that died.Not that you are going to compensate it with millions unlike if someone kills you Americans like the Lockerbe plane disaster.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:27 am | Reply
    • Jonathan

      Doesn't anyone remember what happened to the USS Cole...

      July 17, 2012 at 10:14 am | Reply
    • Kirk

      These were suspected Indian terrorists who were not heeding US Navy warnings. Don't mess with US Navy !!!

      July 17, 2012 at 11:22 am | Reply
    • T-Bone Thakur

      India poses a clear and present danger to the regional security of the world. ...to USA...NATO...Pakistan and Afghanistan people and armed forces. Hindu cult extremism is on the rise and fanning all terrorism worldwide. Indians are the bankers to and financing terrorism and supporting Talibans and Al Qaeda and harboring them in India. These terrorists are being entertained in the Indian parliament building in New Delhi where they are residing and then smuggled over to Pakistan in Indian Army helicopters. Shame on these Indians.

      July 17, 2012 at 11:24 am | Reply
    • 11BangBang

      They began the escalation of force at 1200yd with verbal warnings and all of that. I'm pretty sure that the boat was closer than that when they went from the "show" to "shoot" of the rules of engagement. Anything closer than 300 meters is within blast radius for a medium-sized bomb or IED.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  12. Shawn

    Scared civs with little to no actual combat expeience, shooting 1200 ft to "disable the boat" is a bad idea.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:04 am | Reply
    • 11BangBang

      Again, they initiated the escalation of force procedure at 1200yd/m. Probably didn't shoot until 400m. Also, it would be an active USN security team aboard, not the civilian crew.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  13. soundslikerichidiots

    sounds like some rich peoples kids who have more money then sense

    July 17, 2012 at 8:41 am | Reply
  14. JCDavis

    The Pentagon says the fishing boat was warned while India says it wasn't. So which to believe? The Pentagon, which never kills civilians, never lies us into war, and never overthrows democracies or supports military dictatorships?

    July 17, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply
  15. Abram

    A grave mistake indeed. Da survival of da strongest!

    July 17, 2012 at 8:09 am | Reply
  16. Doyle Wiley, MI

    Fleet-Dragon, seek help. The crew of the USNS Rappahannock simply did their jobs; they were not acting aggressively. Many past military deaths could have been prevented if military personnel strictly followed the rules. But rules must be followed by both sides. I'm not going to address your comments directly because they are to ignorant to waste time addressing.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:25 am | Reply
  17. ali

    lol fleet dragon. you just confirmed yourself a yahoo.com

    July 17, 2012 at 7:25 am | Reply
  18. ali

    aaaaand once the american goof similar in natur if not in scale, to the IA655 incident, was confirmed it was immediately taken off of CNN's homepage. had it been an iranian fisherman it would have been up for another day or two.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:24 am | Reply
  19. baharat

    im sure if the boat was iranian the coverd us ship dont have enough brave to shoot at them

    July 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  20. Cyrus

    Embarrassing....

    July 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  21. Uber News Network (UNN) ©

    These were probably Indian terrorists trying to attack Americans. We have been reporting all along to beware of Hindu extremist groups in India.

    TERRORIST GROUPS IN INDIA
    • RASHTRIYA SWAYAM SEWAK SHANG (R.S.S.)
    • VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD
    • HINDU MUNNANI
    • ARYA SAMAJ
    • SHIV SENA
    • BHARATIYA JANATA PARISHAD
    • SANT SAMITI
    • HINDU MAHASABHA
    • BAAJRANG DAL

    July 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Reply
    • OurDogPakistan

      you should be morning deaths of your friends, couple of Muzzlums got whacked today in Dubai by 50 cal guns? yeah baby.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Reply
      • Cyrus

        Filth....

        July 16, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
      • T-Bone Thakur

        Indians need to understand once and for all that US Armed forces will not take any baloney from Indian terrorists. They have learned from their experience in Afghanistan. So one wrong move from Indians and we will turn India into a landfill. We could use one.

        July 17, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • S. Geoffrey Marcus

      It has been confrimed that these were Indians who were trying to attack US Navy.

      July 17, 2012 at 11:20 am | Reply
  22. Adevarul

    To the defenders of the refueler USNS Rappahannock: You warned, then warned again in a universally understood naval signal. You had every right to defend yourselves. Remember the Cole! Anyone who has sympathy for a small vessel that ignores the warnings of a United States military vessel is either anti-American, an idiot...or both.

    July 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • Fleet-Dragon

      Agreed... we need to be much more aggressive instead of being afriad to 'offend' some murdiering fools that only respond to the solid hard hit of a pigs-blood coated .50 cal.. or a pig gut laced 2,00 pound bomb... i am afraid that if theU.S. does not start to really fight back the towel heads WILL WIN IN ONE OF THEIR ULTIMATE GOAL... SUCCEEDING WHERE HITLER COULD NOT... AND DESTROYING THE UNITED STATES... and i quote muslums in that goal not some 'story'.. and i will not accept condemmnation or anything else!!! if you cannot face the facts and stand up and say "ENOUGH!" then GET THE HELL OUT OF THE UNITED STATES! THERE IS NO ROOM IN MY KINDNESS FOR FOOLS WHO CANNOT FACE THE FACT THAT WAR IS WAR... AND THE ONLY WAY TO WIN IS TO KILL THE ENEMY... NOT GIVE THEM CANDY AND INTERNET ACCESS.... DAMNIT!

      July 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Reply
      • craig

        Clearly heartfelt...but do you really insist that fellow citizens leave their country if they don't share your views?

        July 17, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • SC

      A "universally understood" naval signal?? I think not! There have already been a number of recent incidents involving various navies involved in anti-piracy operations and the like where uneducated local fishermen have come under fire. The armed forces call these incidents regrettable, but have done little to address them in any meaningful way.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:27 am | Reply
      • grooveclubhouse

        I think a warning shot across the bow is pretty well understood and transcends most cultural, ethnic, and language barriers. And if you don't understand the meaning of a projectile flying across the front of you boat then you deserve to have a date with darwinian theory.

        July 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
      • x military

        In spme cultures a shot across the bow is a sign of good luck as well as an invitation to board.

        July 18, 2012 at 7:46 pm |

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