U.S. Navy Shooting Incident: India Calls for an Investigation in the U.A.E.

After marksmen aboard an American naval vessel shot and killed an Indian fisherman in the Persian Gulf, Indian officials and media are demanding a proper investigation

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MC3 Cale Hatch / US Navy / Reuters

The U.S. Navy supply ship USNS Rappahannock maintains station as it prepares a replenishment at sea in this U.S. Navy photo handout photo taken in the South China Sea on March 21, 2012.

This is not how to treat an ally. Survivors aboard an Indian fishing vessel claim they had received no warning before being fired upon by the U.S. Navy on Monday, the Indian press reported. Several news outlets have quoted M.K. Lokesh, the Indian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, as saying that—contrary to American insistence that several warnings were issued before the USNS Rappahannock opened fire on the vessel—survivors said they were taken by surprise. Said Lokesh: There are many versions of the incident. We have to wait for the details to emerge.”

To get those details, India says that it has opened a “full investigation into the circumstances” in the UAE into the July 16 incident in which the naval oil-supply vessel fired shots on a small fishing boat off the coast of Dubai, killing a 29-year-old Indian fishermen and injuring three more. The rest of the crew – two Indians and two Emiratis – were uninjured. In a statement released on Tuesday, the Indian government said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life of the Indian fisherman and the injuries sustained by the others. Our thoughts are with their families.” All of the Indian crew were from the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Millions of Indians currently work in the Gulf region.

(MORE: Does India Want to Be a Part of America’s Plan for Asia?)

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi also issued condolences “to the families of the crew of a small motor vessel, which came under fire from the USNS Rappahannock on July 16, after the vessel disregarded non-lethal warnings and rapidly approached the U.S. ship.” The press release, issued the day after the incident, added that the U.S. was conducting its own investigation into the incident. It was no apology. The U.S. says that its resupply ship opened fire after issuing repeated warnings to a small vessel that was rapidly approaching it, interpreting the behavior as aggressive. The UAE-based National interviewed one of the injured fisherman, who was shot in the leg, who told the paper: “When we came close, we slowed down to let [the USNS Rappahannock] pass to avoid any accidents. Once we crossed them from behind, they started firing at us. Usually, we know alarms and sirens are sounded by ships. But there were no warnings.”

The incident could call into question the efficacy of emergency communication between large and small vessels on the high seas. The shooting follows a similar incident in February, in which Italian marines on a commercial vessel opened fire on Indian fishermen, thinking they were pirates. Two fishermen were killed in that incident. Then, too, the Italians said that the crew of the small boat did not heed multiple warnings before they were compelled to open fire, bringing into question whether the boats were aware of or had the technology to receive the warnings that were issued. Those kinds of details are likely to emerge from the multiple probes into this week’s event. The U.S. has told India it will share the results of its own investigation.

(MORE: Navy Looking to Use Helicopter Drones to Hunt Pirates)

The two incidents also highlight broadening maritime tensions in different parts of the world. Though piracy has been on the decline in the first half of 2012, commercial ships remain on high alert as rogue ships continue to pose a threat to crews throughout the Indian Ocean and, increasingly, in the Gulf of Guinea off Africa’s west coast.

The USNS Rappahannock, which is manned by a civilian crew but had Navy personnel on board, was traveling near the narrow Strait of Hormuz, the site through which a large portion of the world’s oil moves and where tensions are running high between the U.S. and Iran. Iran has threatened to block shipments through the strait in retaliation for international oil sanctions, aimed at staunching its nuclear program, and Navy vessels have reportedly been on alert for small ships in the area that might be sent by Iran to shadow its vessels. Twelve years ago, the U.S.S. Cole was attacked by a suicide bomber manning a small boat off the Yemeni port of Aden, killing 17 soldiers. At the time, the Navy did not have permission to open fire on boats while in port. Today, they do. “We are post-Cole mindset. The rules of engagement have changed,” analyst Walid Phares told Fox News. “The problem,” he rightly points out, is that as tensions with Iran may increase in the area, “there are thousands of these boats.” And likely many harmless sailors caught in the crosshairs of an overzealous soldier’s gun.

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37 comments
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IAF101
IAF101

Just ask yourselves this - Is the behavior exhibited by the naval crew acceptable if they had been on a highway instead of the open seas ? Do you shoot somebody - terrorists or otherwise and just continue onwards ?? And just because the US DoD makes a policy is it reasonable to expect the ENTIRE WORLD to follow that policy and understand its significance  ?

There is a risk of terrorism everywhere, no matter how many precautions you take. Does this justify adopting policies that cost the lives of innocent civilians who have no animosity towards the US just to make people who "choose" to join their nations military a little bit safer ??

The bottom line is : Are the lives of people who voluntarily choose to put themselves in harm's way as their job have the luxury to ensure their safety at the cost of the lives of civilians, even if these civilians aren't "Americans" ?  Is the life of a US soldier/sailor/airman worth more than the life of a Indian fisherman ??

rick98765
rick98765

this is showing again the racist behavior of the americans. this incident is again showed to the world that if they are not whiteys their lives were cheap or worthless. well what they are doing to other non whiteys in their own country they are bringing to the world over and over again. by the way most of the us navy crews are dimwitted.

cookmup
cookmup

Just more attempts to discredit our military in the area, if the "fishermen" were stupid enough to ignore the warning shots across their bow/path prior to being directly shot at, then so be it. It doesn't take a genius to turn away from directed fire coming from a large ship that one is on a heading toward, then coming up with some far-fetched story claiming to be an innocent "fisherman" just accidentally stumbling into the path of the Navy ship. There is much more to the story behind the "fishy"men than is know so far, and probably will not come out for some time. While India is a much closer friend than the "Packies" were, there are still factions within India that are hostile to US who are just as interested in doing damage to us as any of the Taliban or Iranians or Pakistanis.    

aschwab84
aschwab84

I really hope video of this incident comes out so it isn't he said/she said nonsense.  I tend to believe the US Navy on this one more than the fishermen.  I also believe that the fishermen used no common sense regarding the ship coming through.  If I saw any large ship in my general area - I get out of that general area.  You are a lot more maneuverable and it isn't that hard to avoid.  Yet they were that close to the ship and deemed that it could be a threat.

Common sense could have made this not happen.  You are out at sea in an area that is known to be a sensitive area (mainly due to Iran and not piracy), you should use sense to avoid any military vessel regardless of the situation.  Having lived in Dubai for over 10 years, it is easy to see that the Emiratis and Indians were capable of lacking that common sense (just based on their driving habits on the highways).  Yes, it is a judgmental comment there, but anyone that has lived there will know what I am talking about.

aschwab84
aschwab84

Wow, you really don't know much about the story. They were 10 miles off shore...not right next to shore where it is crowded.

Literally every Emirati speaks English. It IS the business language in the UAE as Arabic is not common. Out of the 5 on that book, I assure you or spoke English. Let alone, the warnings from the boat would not only be in English off those waters....

IAF101
IAF101

Again,  as others have said - you don't know what the heck you are talking about.  

Some grey ship with English writing is meaningless to most people to identify as "US" or "Timbuktu" . Secondly, ANY and EVERY competent sailor knows that once you get close to shore it is natural to see fishing vessels moving about and  ANYBODY with even a lick of experience sailing the seas will tell you that fishingboats don't always stay nice and far away and quite often try and cut you off and weave between larger ships sometimes coming a little too close. An experienced sailor knows this - a so called "naval" sailor MUST know this and the fact that the USNS - basically a civvie run ship with some USN rejects who couldn't get on a real naval vessel are to be taken at their word ?

Okay, so they "defended" themselves but what did they do after that ? Did they inform anybody ? Did they move to a safe distance and at least bother to verify what they shot at ?? NO. Like a criminal they fled the "scene" !! If they had done nothing wrong why "run away" ?

This is appalling behavior and the fact that the UAE government hasn't sent a naval vessel to arrest those US "naval sailors" for murder is what the US should be thankful for!

AsterixGaul
AsterixGaul

Your "belief", "faith", "experience" or "opinion" is again not the same as "fact". Let the investigation run its course and see what comes out of it before taking sides about who you believe most?

shamu9
shamu9

 Gaul,=French?? Ha Ha!, Real Heroes!I operate small fishing vessels around subs destroyers,

 all types or war and support ships of various Navies in Port Canaveral, Florida. It is Impossible to get that Close to a Naval vessel without being WARNED  Away, in the appropriate Language, By Radio, or Loud-Hailer.  Or Run OFF by a Patrol Boat.You Have to go WAAY OUT in the wilderness to find someone who doesn't understand enough English to Stand-Off. These WOGS KNEW What they were doing. They Dumped the Ordinance They Planned to USE on our Ship, after they learned The Hard Way, that the U.S. Plays HARD BALL NOW! Scarew them Hadjiis All Anyway!

IAF101
IAF101

Shamu9 = Moron ?? 

It's easy to be brave against an unarmed fishing boat. I'd like to see the same "hard ball" wise cracks against a Chinese or Indian naval destroyer or frigate that can light up the USNS RAP like a roman candle before its incompetent crew of USN rejects who couldn't get a decent posting on a real USS ship try to repeat their incompetence and demonstrate their "heroism" against unarmed vessels again!

aschwab84
aschwab84

The irony in your response is overwhelming.  As I said, I "tend to believe" in my response.  I never said anything was fact, I was stating my opinion.  Now you, out of all people in this comments section, saying that I need to wait for facts is truly baffling.  You have already said the US Navy are murders (saying the fisherman was murdered) without any facts.  You have relentlessly said what the US has done ("

How about USNS keeps the hell out of that Gulf sea shooting fishermen who have been fishing there for centuries at sight!?!" and this gem "

However this was too much for some "idiot" on USNS ship to bear and he/she shot and killed a fisheman.").  Where are you waiting for the facts?  Shot at sight?  Uh...yeah, you truly are waiting for the outcome.  Come on, if you want to post your crap on here and then criticize someone for actually saying that it is my opinion, then you are the biggest hypocrite on here.  At least I preempt mine by saying that it is my opinion while yours comes off as you were there and know the facts.  Mine are at least based on me living in that area for over a decade and seeing how some people act there.

Now, why do you believe what you believe on here?  What evidence do you have contrary to what the US Navy has said?

AsterixGaul
AsterixGaul

Hmm... you sound overtly emotional. Instead of mixing and matching, bits and pieces of my comments out of context, with some generous creative addition of your own words to my comments, to fit your perception straight jacket; try to re-read my comments and the comment above mine to which I was responding. I can descend to your depth but I will be wasting my time and derailing this discussion further trying to justify every "if", "but", "perhaps" of my comments till kingdom come!

aschwab84
aschwab84

No, killing someone with a gun is not murder if it was in self defense.  If someone walks onto my property and I deem them a threat, I can shoot them and it will not be murder.  The same goes with the ship, I believe the boat WAS warned, again I BELIEVE.  We have no proof one way or the other, so you cannot say if I am right or wrong on that.  The boat was deemed a threat, was warned, and then someone got shot.  That is what I believe happened.  Shooting someone who is unsuspecting for no reason is murder.  This, in my opinion, was not.

aschwab84
aschwab84

Again, I never said I had facts.  I do not get why you have a hard time understanding that.  I said I was hoping there was a video to show what actually happened.

And yes, I am quite aware what irony means.  Those were your quotes that you were putting across as facts.  You never once referred to them as your opinion but you were very clear in what you were saying.

-The US Navy murdered them

- The US Navy shot on sight without reason

- The guy who killed him was an "idiot" who couldn't handle things

Yes, the people like me here are stating our opinions.  We are not saying what is fact and what is not fact.  You are the person on here saying that we are wrong and have no facts yet you seem to have all of them.  You are quick to say the US murdered people yet if I say it is my opinion that we did not, I am in the wrong.  You seem to fail on a basic level on this whole "debating" thing.  If you do not want people to state "facts" (which I have never claimed to be) then you should not do it yourself.  If you want to state what happened and who is in the wrong, and then criticize someone for an opposite opinion, then yes, it is ironic and would make you a hypocrite.

Again, if I am on a boat, and I see a large boat coming, I get out of the way.  That is common sense.  If I am in a car, and a truck is heading right towards me, I get out of the way.  Common sense.  It doesnt matter who was in the right and wrong in these situations, you use common sense and try to avoid the situation.

As far as who is right in wrong can still be debated once we get the facts, like I have been saying all along.  Until then, we have our opinions on who is right and wrong.  I stated mine and you seem to take issue to the fact that my opinion is based off of what we know now and not all the facts.  The problem is, you seem to think you can only be right and you do not need to wait for the facts to tell everyone you are right and pretend to have facts which you do not.

I am guessing you will avoid answering how you have the facts and why you are right again and go on to attack my opinion. 

AsterixGaul
AsterixGaul

Do you even know what "irony" means? All the quotes you pulled out of my earlier comments were in response to people like you here assuming/believing/imagining other people to be "morons", "idiots", "less believable than US navy" , "lacking common sense", etc.,  without a shred of evidence coming out in pulic domain yet validating that fact! That's ignorance and hubris. Killing someone with a gun is murder unless otherwise proven - that's a fact! Think about it... with a little less emotion.

Sid_Higgins
Sid_Higgins

How about don't approach a military vessel at all?  How is that for a warning?  If you approach a military vessel of any kind your a flipping idiot.  Just don't do it and you won't get shot at.  The End.

IAF101
IAF101

How about you get the hell out of the Gulf and "GO HOME" ?? Just "GO HOME", Get LOST and there won't be any problems. 

The fishermen were there first, these are "their" waters, their "country", their homes. You have as much business there as a bull in a china shop! 

The end. 

AsterixGaul
AsterixGaul

How about USNS keeps the hell out of that Gulf sea shooting fishermen who have been fishing there for centuries at sight!?! You seem to know a lot about what happened there! Were you there? This is a narrow piece of sea with lots of traffic. The fishermen claim that they were there already when this Navy ship seemed to be crossing their path. They gave way to the USNS ship, let it pass and tried to move again once it completely passed their boat. However this was too much for some "idiot" on USNS ship to bear and he/she shot and killed a fisheman. What kind of a "flipping idiot" to use your flowery language will do that?

shamu9
shamu9

I have a U.S.C.G. Masters Lic. Am retired LAW ENFORCEMENT, and a B.A.! What The F--- are YOU?? Arab Loving Frog!

omegafrontier
omegafrontier

 Where are you getting your information?  Heading toward the Navy ship, the fishermen said they wanted to avoid the Navy ship by speed up to make a turn.  Maybe that was why they got shot at: for speeding up.

This isn't something that's new with Indian fishermen.  Couple of years ago, the Italian navy shot an Indian fishermen boat for approaching them as well, thinking they were pirates.

AsterixGaul
AsterixGaul

CNN has a sketch showing the path of that skiff around the back of USN ship not in front of it. I did not claim any "information" or assume anything as a fact based on my "faith" on anybody. I was responding to the other user with publicly available "news", not "information".

The trigger happy Italian studs you allude to above are undergoing trail and cooling their heals in an Indian jail for that shooting.

Sid_Higgins
Sid_Higgins

You have faith in your ignorant fishermen... and I'll keep my faith in my military and their protocols.  The Navy personnel on the USNS Rappahannock weren't some stressed out Marines that had been out in the field for months with PTSD.  These were alert and focused Navy security forces tasked with the defense of a  military vessel carrying highly fammable and dangerous cargo.  They have no reason to falsify their reports and they followed orders.  The fact that lives were lost is unfortunte, but having been in the military myself and knowing how important it is to follow procedures to the "T",... I'm confident our sailors did what was necessary before opening fire.  In their minds it was likely a choice between the lives of the fishermen (or unknowns at the time) and the likely several hundred lives on the ship.  Your opinion that our ship didn't belong there is irrelevant.

IAF101
IAF101

Well except you - not many people have faith in the USNS weekend warriors. These fishermen have no reason to lie about their statements either, especially not after they've been riddled with bullets. 

What is "unfortunate" is that the US military is made up of people who would rather "murder" in error than have the guts to risk their lives to defend civilians going about their "usual" business. Apparently bravery and professionalism to a US naval sailor is to shoot dead an innocent civilian because he "might" be a threat! Since you've been in the military, you must also know that often times sailors screw up- mess around or are plain incompetent! The number of US Sailors in jails around the world's ports after shore leave is clear indication of their "judgement". Please, tell somebody else more naive about how procedures are "always followed to a T". 

AsterixGaul
AsterixGaul

"Faith" and "fact" is not the same thing. Till this incident is investigated and real facts come out - all that you spout above is likewise "your" opinion and is equally irrelevant.

Satish Chandra
Satish Chandra

The criminals of CIA-RAW have been removing my posted comments; save this on your computer and pass it on.

The killing of an Indian fisherman by a U.S. ship was carried out to divert attention from what I said in my press release of July 11 '12 (below) about the British killing over ten million Indians in just the ten years after 1857 in just Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Bihar because of which India remains under white colonial rule and how it will be liberated and because of my earlier press releases about an Italian ship killing Indian fishermen:-

Manmohan Singh at the G-20 meeting in Mexico on June 18 '12 pledged $10 billion to the IMF to help European countries such as Greece and Italy cope with debt but will not use the money to help tens of thousands of Indian farmers committing suicide due to indebtedness or hundreds of millions of India's malnourished children. He seeks foreign investment -- that is, foreign ownership and control of India -- but will not invest the hundreds of billions of dollars he has given to the United States government -- in exchange for U.S. Treasury bonds -- in India. This is not even counting the unlimited amount of capital available to India by simply printing the money so long as it is used for productive purposes: 'How India's Economy Can Grow 30% Per Year Or More' :HowIndiasEconomyCanGrowDOTblogspotDOTcom . An example of foreign investment trumpeted by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma is a $5 billion investment in India announced by Coca Cola to give Indians harmful-to-health beverages and replace healthier and tastier Indian beverages. Such examples of American rule over India in economic, military and all spheres can be multiplied hundreds of times. India's nuclear forces have been accused in the past of presenting photo-shopped non-existent missiles and non-existent nuclear warheads but India's nuclear warheads emplaced in U.S. cities since then are not non-existent : 'Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U.S.' :NuclearSupremacyForIndiaOverUSDOTblogspotDOTcom . If it is the non-existence of "knowledge, intelligence, courage and character" which is responsible for their not having triggered the warheads, with a warning that additional U.S. cities will be destroyed if there is any retaliation, it is MY responsibility to provide the knowledge, intelligence, courage and character; all they have to do is obey India's legitimate ruler and it is high time they did so without further delay: 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram Satish Chandra' :SatyamShivamSundaramSatishChandraDOTblogspotDOTcom .

I have referred in 'Source of Manmohan Singh's 'Deep Love' For Bush' -- SourceOfManmohanSinghsDeepLoveForBushDOTblogspotDOTcom -- to the British in India having killed over ten million Indians in just the ten years after 1857; people have mistakenly assumed these to be deaths caused by famine but NO, NO, NO, these were deaths caused by the gun and sword and hangings and being blown from the mouths of cannons in just the ten years after 1857 in just Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Bihar; the deaths caused by famines during British rule were quite separate from this; see Amaresh Misra's 'India AD 1857' in two volumes totaling over two thousand pages (Delhi: Rupa amp; Co., 2008) which describes hundreds of the battles fought during the 1857 uprising which was thousands of times bigger and more extensive, over the entire subcontinent, than India's colonial administration -- all Indian governments after 1947 have been a continuation of white colonial rule; see 'What You Should Know About RAW': WhatYouShouldKnowAboutRAWDOTblogspotDOTcom -- will let Indians know; this two volume work should replace the Ramayan and Mahabharat as required daily reading in Indian homes and schools -- all educational institutions at all levels should have required courses in the 1857 War of Independence studies -- without which Indians cannot capture the hatred for the white man (and woman) to win India's War of Independence: 'A Note on Hate': ANoteOnHateDOTblogspotDOTcom and 'Join India's War of Independence' : JoinIndiaWarOfIndependenceDOTblogspotDOTcom . With the simultaneous nuclear destruction of New Delhi, Washington and New York, with a warning that additional U.S. cities will be destroyed if there is any retaliation, this time the result of India's War of Independence will be different. Satish Chandra

intrance454
intrance454

Idk..Were "Warnings"Really issued? With Everything from the moon landings to 911 being called Conspiracies,and I Think I've seen some fairly good proof,IDK What to believe at this point !

Sid_Higgins
Sid_Higgins

Who cares even if warnings WEREN'T issued.  There is plenty of proof these morons were close to a military vessel where they didn't belong.  They got too close and paid the price.  Lesson learned.

IAF101
IAF101

So a USNS Ship "belongs" in the Gulf while Arab and Indian fishermen don't belong off the Arabian coast ?? 

The "lesson" learnt here is that the US Navy is only marginally competent and have all the courage of a mouse and the moral compass of a Harlem gangster. The myth that they are actually there to uphold the peace is laughable after this heroic display of courage by the brave crew of UNSN Rappahannock that valiantly fought off a unarmed and defenseless fishing vessel while slaying one unarmed fisherman with their .50 cal. I'm sure its a nice story the crew will tell their grandchildren about around the table! 

parth vasa
parth vasa

First off it is only painted grey, it looks and was a supply refueling ship. THey were in a busy Dubai harbor area and sailed off into international waters after the shooting. The Dubai police chief believes the Fisherman's story and is trating the case as murder. Somebody going to lose his job. THe Navy ship had no business being there with such a policy. Imagine if the Indian Navy shot up bubba and buddies in Miami. And oh no warning shots were fired. Always trust a poor fisherman over any countries Navy or institution- a fundamental game theory paradigm. He would make a terrible liar after that trauma.

AsterixGaul
AsterixGaul

Who cares!?? Let me think - The family of murdered fisherman for one? Again you seem to have a lot of proof in your head already when the US Navy, UAE and Indian authorities are still doing their investigation. Did you just make that proof up in your head or were you actually there on scene?

rdl114
rdl114

 Calling a duck a chicken doesn't make it so.

nvrtalk
nvrtalk

Don't forget to "hire a vet" - with fisherman killing skills like that your lawn mowing service or store shelf stocking will never have to worry about an incomplete day's work. 

Better yet hire me. I work hard, am honest and have not murdered any fishermen.

omegafrontier
omegafrontier

Had the technology to receive the warnings?

You mean like having ears or eyes?  What kind of warnings were they sending lol

IAF101
IAF101

You mean the same "technology" that prevented this US Naval Ship from distinguishing a fishing vessel for terrorists ?? Eyes and Ears ?