WASHINGTON – A fisherman on an Indian fishing boat that was hit by gunfire from a U.S. Navy ship off Dubai’s coast on Monday says the crew received no warning.
One person was killed and three were wounded when shots were fired from the USNS Rappahannock.
But the Pentagon is sticking to its guns.
“We certainly regret the loss of life in this incident. There were warning measures taken in this incident based on what we know now,” says George Little, Pentagon spokesman.
Indian diplomatic officials have met with those wounded, and Indian Ambassador M.K. Lokesh told The Associated Press on Tuesday that “one of the survivors reported that the men were returning from fishing when they encountered the American ship.”
According to Lokesh, there was no warning before the shooting occurred.
In an interview with The National, an Abu Dabi newspaper, Dubai Police Chief Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim said an initial investigation suggests “the boat was in its right course and did not pose any danger.”
He said the shooting was a mistake.
Little says safety is always top of mind among U.S. Navy vessels and crews in the Arabian Gulf.
“All U.S. Navy ships take into account for security reasons the prospects of potential threats, especially in the wake of the USS Cole,” he says.
The USNS Rappahannock, a refueling ship near the Jebel Ali port in Dubai, is a part of a beefed up U.S. Navy presence in the region because of escalating tensions with Iran. The incident seems to point out just how important split-second safety decisions are when Navy ships feel threatened.
Click here for a timeline of the events from U.S. Central Command and a graphic showing the ship’s coordinates.