A US Navy ship fired on a small boat in the Persian Gulf today, killing one person and injuring three others who were aboard the craft, according to a US Navy official.
Yahoo News reports that a security team aboard the oil supply ship U.S.N.S. Rappahannock fired a.50 caliber machine gun at a “small motor vessel after it disregarded warnings and rapidly approached the U.S. ship,” which is located off the coast of Jebel Ali near Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
The Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is currently based in Bahrain, was involved with the incident, and the navy is currently investigating the incident. According to a navy official, the boat was a white pleasure craft, however a UAE official stated that the craft was actually a fishing boat, which carried four Indians and two Emirates. There is currently no indication that the incident was terror-related.
While the Navy official noted that it’s not unusual for an Iranian speed craft to harass U.S. ships in the area, the boat in this case was not Iranian. The official further stated that, “I can’t emphasize enough that this has nothing to do with Iran.”
CNN reports that the Navy released a statement following the incident, saying:
“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 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.”
The Huffington Post notes that the USNS Rappahannock is an oiler ship, which is used to fuel other Navy ships while at sea. The white-hulled boat they fired on was inspected by several police officers, as well as Emirati officials, in a small Dubai harbor often used by fisherman and recreational sailors.
The vessel appeared to be about 30 feet long and was powered by 3 outboard motors. There were no obvious military markings on it. Rescue workers were seen carrying one body bag off the boat before officials moved the boat from the harbor.
The investigation is ongoing as to what caused the small boat to ignore the US Navy ship’s warning.