A security team aboard the oil supply ship U.S.N.S. Rappahannock fired on a boat in the Persian Gulf today, killing one and injuring three others.
The Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in nearby Bahrain, said the U.S. ship fired a .50 caliber machine gun at a “small motor vessel after it disregarded warnings and rapidly approached the U.S. ship” near the coast of Jebel Ali, about 30 miles from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, according to ABC News.
The Navy released the following on its website:
In accordance with Navy force protection procedures, the sailors on the USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) 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.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Navy claimed it was harassed by Iranian boats. CNN reported on January 13:
The USS New Orleans, an amphibious transport ship was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf [on January 6] when three Iranian Navy speed boats rapidly approached within 500 yards of the ship, the official said. The Iranians did not respond to whistle signals or voice queries from the New Orleans. The lack of response disregards standard maritime protocols, the official said. The boats eventually broke away.
On the same day, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Adak was also harassed by high-speed Iranian Navy boats while operating 75 miles east of Kuwait City. Iranian personnel in the small boats appeared to be holding AK-47 rifles and at least one video camera, the official said. U.S. personnel on the cutter also reported seeing a forward gun that was manned on one of the Iranian boats, according to the official. Eventually, communications with a larger Iranian vessel in the area were established and the speed boats stopped their harassment.
No shots were fired in either incident, both of which were videotaped. The Pentagon may release that footage later Friday.
In 2008, the Bush administration claimed Iran had engaged in aggressive maneuvers near U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran later said the U.S. had fabricated a video allegedly showing the Iranian speedboats. “Images released by the U.S. Department of Defense about the Navy vessels were made from file pictures, and the audio was fabricated,” an unnamed Revolutionary Guard official said in January, 2008.
In January, we reported on the comments of former Israeli intelligence officer Avi Perry who predicted a “surprise” Pearl Harbor-style Iranian attack on an American warship in the Persian Gulf as a pretext for the U.S. to launch an all-out attack on Iran.
“The US would retaliate by attacking Iran’s navy, their military installations, missile silos, airfields. The US would target Iran’s ability to retaliate, to close down the Strait of Hormuz. The US would then follow by targeting the regime itself,” he wrote.
“I can’t emphasize enough that this has nothing to do with Iran,” a U.S. official said after the boat was fired on earlier today.