WASHINGTON – A U.S. Navy fuel-resupply ship that had just passed through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf opened fire at a 50-foot fishing boat moving toward it, killing one person and wounding three others, U.S. officials said.
A security team aboard the Rappahannock, which refuels warships, fired a .50-caliber machine gun Monday after the smaller boat “disregarded warnings and rapidly approached” about 10 miles off Jebel Ali port in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, according to the Navy’s 5th Fleet.
U.S. officials said the incident was under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Dubai police. But as details emerged, it appeared the fishing boat had been heading into port and had strayed too close to a Navy ship on high alert.
The incident highlighted rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran over the narrow strait.
In October 2000, al-Qaida suicide bombers set off a rubber boat packed with explosives beside the Cole, a guided-missile destroyer, killing 17 sailors, while it was refueling in the Yemen port of Aden. Sailors aboard the Cole did not have permission to open fire in port unless fired upon first, a rule the Navy changed after the attack.
A civilian crew sails the Rappahannock, but a Navy security team is aboard. U.S. officials said the fishermen ignored warnings by radio, loudspeakers and flashing lights before the Navy security team opened fire. The four casualties were Indian citizens.