US vessel fires on boat in Gulf, killing one and injuring three

It seems that USNS Rappahannock has fired on a small craft that ignored warnings and closed with her in the Persian Gulf.  From the NBC News article:

The crew aboard the Navy ship sent out repeated warnings, including radio calls, flashing lights, lasers and ultimately warning shots from a 50-caliber machine gun.  When the boat failed to heed the warnings, the crew was ordered to open fire with the 50-caliber gun.

It will be critically important that US civilian and military leadership emphasizes the above, and plasters images and accounts of USS Cole all over the news immediately and persistently for the next several weeks.  We should be very proactive in letting the world know that there is a terror threat to US warships and auxiliaries posed by small craft, and any such vessel that ignores the warnings as were summarized above will be fired upon and destroyed.

We mustn’t begin the oh-so familiar course of meekly apologizing for having to kill those who threaten us.   If we do, we will see many more actions such as this, likely designed to cause us to fit ourselves for ever-tighter handcuffs and more restrictive rules of engagement in combat on land and sea, which the enemy will use to increasing advantage to exploit his strengths and our weaknesses.  On the contrary, we must be firm and aggressive with our reaction to the incident.  Actions without strong narrative are subject to interpretation.

If the United States, and in particular the United States Navy, has any sense of true ‘strategic messaging”, we will let the rest of the world know that, should another small craft ignore similar warnings, it, too, will be fired upon.  And any death or injury that results from such incidents is the responsibility of those who willfully ignore the warnings, and on those who likely have sent them.

Cross-postation at USNI Blog

14 thoughts on “US vessel fires on boat in Gulf, killing one and injuring three”

    1. If it IS just a harmless civilian who was not actively up to mischief, I don’t have any real problem with an apology and compensation. And given the chaotic nature of shipping in that region, it probably was a civilian just being stupid.

  1. I have a problem with an apology and compensation. A big one.

    As many small craft as are in those waters, for a USNS vessel to identify one as acting in a threatening manner, heedless of multiple internationally-recognized warnings, whomever was in that boat was either a canary or bait fish. Though I am certain there will be the requisite “innocent civilian” meme.

    Ignore the warnings, get shot. Make it plain. Make it firm. Shoot all whom are foolish or motivated enough to ignore the warnings.

  2. “The defense department regrets to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid.”

    1. Good Goose and Mav reference.
      Worse would be “The Defense Department regrets to inform you that your sons are dead because their leaders were gutless.”

  3. That might work. Though “regret” may be too strong a word. “Acknowledge”?

    1. Words are cheap. A human being is dead. Sure, it was a dumb human being, but we can still regret the necessity. Much like we regret when the eagle kills a bunny rabbit.

  4. I do not mean to suggest that the security detail aboard did anything wrong. From all appearances, they followed the established ROE. Nor do I think the ROE need to be revisited or tightened. Arguably, they’re too tight already.

    But acknowledging that someone is dead, and providing a small compensation isn’t unreasonable, even if they did die of their own stupidity.

    Of course, if this small craft was about nefarious purposes, the situation changes. .50cal ammo is fairly cheap.

    1. Understand the sentiment. However, IMHO, that is a very American way of looking at it. We would issue a statement of “regret” for OUR consumption, not theirs. To those who would send someone in to test our defenses, knowing that death is nearly inevitable, life is cheap and their “regrets” are purely for the inflammation of anti-US sentiment.

      Any ship or craft in international waters has the obligation to heed the warnings given by warships of any nation. We need to hammer that point, and that we will do so again, instead of the self-contemplation of figuring how we might put our warships and sailors in just a little more danger in order to avoid similar, while the enemy’s very goal is for more incidents.

  5. I’d forgive a stupid civilian for excusing “radio calls, flashing lights, lasers” being ignored/misunderstood. “Maybe they didn’t have a radio!” (Though any boat on the water powered by anything other than oars OUGHT to have a radio), “Maybe they thought the boat was being friendly by flashing lights!” But the instant a boat ignores warning shots, and makes no effort to turn away, they’re ASKING to be killed. No one “misunderstands” warning shots. There’s no remotely plausible exuse to think incoming fire is friendly.

  6. Of course, now the idiots who got lit up are claiming the Rappahannock opened fire with NO warning.

    Of course, the pravda BELIEVES them.

    Yet in their description of events in the reuters article, the fishermen say they accelerated towards the Rappahannock to go around her bow . . .

    They just admitted why they were lawfully fired upon.

    NO ONE misunderstands warning shots from a Queen Bee Ma Duece.

    I was directly involved in more than one shooting at a TCP where haji just caught a fatal case of stupid.

    I never apologized.

    Neither should the US Navy, especially when they make the video footage and radio logs available.

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