US Navy Fires on Fishing Boat in Persian Gulf, Killing One

After heightened fears of a conflict with Iran, a US official said, "I can't emphasize enough that this has nothing to do with Iran."

by John Glaser, July 16, 2012

The US Navy killed an Indian fisherman and wounded three others in the southern Persian Gulf off the coast of Dubai on Monday, with US officials claiming the unidentified fishing boat approached the US warship.

A spokesman for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet based in nearby Bahrain, Lieutenant Greg Raelson, said the small vessel “disregarded warnings and rapidly approached” the US Navy ship, the Rappahonnock.

“The U.S. crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessel’s operators to turn away from their deliberate approach,” the Pentagon said in a press statement Monday. “When those efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel, the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a .50-caliber machine gun.”

“US ships have an inherent right to self defence against potential threats…The safety of our vessels and our personnel is of the utmost priority,” Raelson told Al Jazeera.

The incident raised fears this afternoon that the US Navy may have shot upon an Iranian vessel, a move which could have ratcheted up tensions in the region considerably. But a Navy official told ABC News, “I can’t emphasize enough that this has nothing to do with Iran.”

The Obama administration has significantly increased its military and naval presence in the Persian Gulf region as of late. The build up, planned for at least a year, comes mainly in the form of Navy warships and minesweepers patrolling the waterway to the south of Iran. Stealthy F-22 and F-15C warplanes have also been placed into two separate bases in the Persian Gulf.

“Those additional attack aircraft give the United States military greater capability against coastal missile batteries that could threaten shipping, as well as the reach to strike other targets deeper inside Iran,” reported the New York Times earlier this month.

US policy toward the region is now primarily about militarily threatening Iran by surrounding the country with readied forces and weapons. Monday’s incident only ended in the killing of one innocent fisherman and the wounding of three others, but it shows how dangerous militarizing the area can be.

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