US ship fires on boat after warnings ignored

2012-07-16 18:36
The USNS Rappahannock, fuel resupply vessel, has fired on a boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates when it came too close to the ship, after a verbal caution and a warning shot were ignored.

The USNS Rappahannock, fuel resupply vessel, has fired on a boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates when it came too close to the ship, after a verbal caution and a warning shot were ignored.

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Dubai - An American vessel fired on a boat on Monday off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, killing one person and injuring three, according to a US consular official in Dubai.

It appeared the boat could have been mistaken as a threat in Gulf waters not far from Iran's maritime boundaries.

According to CNN, the USNS Rappahannock, a fuel resupply vessel, fired on the boat when it raced toward the ship and came too close to it near the Dubai port of Jebel Ali.

The US vessel verbally warned the boat and fired at least one warning shot before the decision was made to fire shots to disable the boat.

A security team aboard the ship resorted to lethal force using a .50-calibre machine gun.

Officials described the course of events as standard procedure when a small boat gets too close to a US Navy ship.

Dozens of police and other Emirati officials crowded around the white-hulled boat, which sat docked after the incident in a small Dubai port used by fishermen and sailors.

The boat appeared to be a civilian vessel about 9m long and powered by three outboard motors.

Similar boats are used for fishing in the region, though Iran's Revolutionary Guard also employs relatively small, fast-moving craft in the Gulf.

Rescue workers were seen carrying one person in a body bag off the boat and placing it in an ambulance as fishermen looked on.

Officials moved the boat from the harbour shortly afterward.

An Emirati rescue official at the scene confirmed the casualty toll. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the incident between the two allies.

US military vessels routinely cross paths with Iranian ships in international waters in the Gulf without incident, but speed boats from Iran's Revolutionary Guard have passed close to US ships in incidents that have raised alarm in Washington.

In early 2008, then President Bush accused Iran of a "provocative act" after five small Iranian craft buzzed around the destroyer USS Hopper.

Tensions are elevated in the Gulf after Iran last week renewed threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz - the route for one-fifth of the world's oil - in retaliation for tighter sanctions over Tehran's nuclear programme.

The US recently boosted its naval presence in the Gulf by deploying deployed two aircraft carriers to the region -the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Enterprise - and doubled its minesweeper fleet in the area from four to eight ships on June 23.

The deployment aims to send a clear message to Iran over its threats to mine the narrow Strait of Hormuz through which about a fifth of the world's traded oil passes.

The US Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, said it was investigating the Monday shooting.

The US embassy in Abu Dhabi had no immediate comment, referring all questions to the Navy.

Emirati officials could not be reached for comment.

- AP
Read more on:    iran  |  dubai  |  security  |  maritime
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