“Halt Or We Will Shoot”

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The USNS Rappahannock

When the first reports flashed over the wires Monday that the USNS Rappahannock fired a .50 caliber machine gun at a fast-approaching craft in the Persian Gulf, the first thought that flashed through many minds was: Thank God – another USS Cole averted.

But in the hours after the shooting, it became increasingly clear that the small craft approaching the largely civilian-manned replenishment oiler wasn’t a wave-skimming bomb but a fishing boat, perhaps piloted by a drunk or deranged captain, or someone suffering from heat stroke.


But how the heck are armed sailors — with the fate of their vessel, not to mention their shipmates, possibly imperiled — supposed to react? “In accordance with Navy force protection procedures, the sailors…used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force,” the Navy’s 5th Fleet said in a statement from its base in Bahrain. The Navy tightened security regulations in the region after a small inflatable boat approached the USS Cole in Aden harbor in 2000 and exploded alongside, killing 17 sailors.

The shooting left one Indian fisherman dead and three seriously wounded, the United Arab Emirates said. The event occurred about 10 miles off the UAE coast, near its port of Jebel Ali.

Tehran denounced the attack. “We have announced time and again that the presence of foreign forces can be a threat to regional security,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on state television. “Certainly regional countries with the help of one another can provide security in the best possible way. If they join hands, with their defensive capabilities, they don’t need the presence of foreign forces. Anywhere where you see insecurity we have always seen the hand of foreign forces there.”

The sailors who fired had grounds for concern, given their location. They fired just beyond the Strait of Hormuz, inside the Persian Gulf. Navy officers have said for years that Iranian speedboats routinely buzz U.S. ships in the region.

“It’s clear that the Iranians have taken an approach in which they are going to attempt to use small boats, swarms, cruise missiles, mines, perhaps suicide boats, small submarines,” Vice Admiral Mark Fox said last year, when he was commanding the Navy’s 5th Fleet, responsible for the Persian Gulf. “They are doing everything they can to create capability in what we would refer to as an asymmetric fashion against our conventional superiority.”

But by late Monday Washington time, it was clear the boat wasn’t Iranian.

The firing was similar to the 1988 downing of Iran Air 655, a civilian jetliner shot down by the USS Vincennes in 1988 after the warship mistook it for a threatening Iranian F-14. All 290 aboard, including 66 children, died.

That’s what happens when you bring firepower to a troubled corner of the world and warn all comers not to trifle with your presence. Meanwhile, in related news, the Pentagon announced it is dispatching a second aircraft carrier to Iran’s ‘hood several months early to ensure there will be a pair of U.S. flattops in the unsettled region for the foreseeable future. Iran has repeatedly threatened to shut down the strait — through which much of the world’s crude oil flows — as tensions between Tehran and much of the rest of the world simmer over its nuclear-development efforts.

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 News update: The victims are speaking (at least the lucky survivors).


a) The Indians say that they even drove in A CIRCLE AROUND the U.S. warship (“ [...] we were speeding up to try and GO A-R-O-U-N-D THEM [...] ”),


b) the U.S. Navy says “no noo, they almost rammed us!” : “ (...) deliberate approach at speed (...) ”.

A CIRCULAR , OUTBOUND motion already appears to someone as a LINEAR , INBOUND motion? What deplorable mind hallucinates this kind of bullsh*t ??!

Hey Mark, didn't you theorize in your article that there was some (quote) “drunk or deranged captain, or someone suffering from heat stroke” involved? Well, you're 50 % right about that!

Logically speaking, if a civilian ship can't drive around an U.S. warship anymore, not to the left nor to the right, without getting sunk, what else should it do: Turn around and forever keep swimming AHEAD of every U.S. warship?

2) According to other (unfortunately non-English) sources the plastic yacht was even 1 KILOMETER AWAY from the U.S. Navy freighter when it drove around it, trying to avoid it.

But distances mean nothing to U.S. Americans: Iran Air Flight 655 was even COMPLETELY out of sight (20 kilometers away) while the “U.S.S. Vincennes” ITSELF was INSIDE Iranian sovereign waters – without first declaring war – when it shot down that unsuspecting Iranian airliner in Iranian airspace, also claiming “self-defence” !!!

3) Actions have consequences... Even murders in international waters: “ 'The Dubai Police and port police stations have carried the necessary investigation and treated this as a murder case and all necessary legal action should be taken so the matter can be referred to the Dubai Public Prosecution', he added.”

The prospect of a “raghead” court condemning an anonymous, “untouchable” U.S. Navy “raghead”-killer in absentia must make you hopelessly brainwashed U.S. Americans laugh like never before. But with three voices contradicting one, this isn't just about any party's “guilty”, “innocent” or “grossly negligent” verdict anymore: Since the U.S. Navy immediately – almost reflexively – absolved its amuck machine-gunner after the fusillade from any wrongdoings, too, and even lauded the way “he scrupulously carried out all proper procedures”, they better produce now some material proof of that. Anything at all.

Otherwise even the most basic credibility, freedom from racial prejudice and respectability of the U.S. Navy will be at stake.

And one tiny, faraway, Anglo island (New Zealand) already shows its middle finger for 27 years straight at the U.S. Navy precisely over its... contempt for foreign national laws.

Rig Perez
Rig Perez

I wish more conspiracy nut jobs would stop posting on this. The vessel violated reason and sense. They were warned. They didn't listen. Same thing would happen if they decided to climb the fence of a US military installation anywhere in the world. They would be shot until they were immobile or dead.


The entire incident took just under 3 mins from the ship spotting the fishing vessel to sending out a warning to firing. 

Best thing is after shooting the hell out of the boat, they moved away at "full speed" sort of like a drive-by! 


 Funny, that's PRECISELY what the civilians-killing, patriotic, redneck machine-gunner said, too, before lighting up his cigar with its red-hot barrels and taking a deep puff.

I never thought he could read or write.

In the meantime, the Indian Ambassador already spoke to his recovering nationals in an U.A.E. hospital and told the Press afterwards that the big game anglers had been on absolutely NO collision course with the U.S. warship, and that they were machine-gunned in international waters without the slightest prior warning, let alone “with a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses”.

And in fact: After the U.S. Navy's initial, formal, hollow statement (“every standard procedure was performed textbook-like”), don't you find their subsequent TOTAL SILENCE and absence of further informations unconvincing?

I guess that means the Indian hobby fishers will have to foot their hospital bills and post-operatory cares themselves. Because a Liberty-spreading Super-Power like the U.S.A. never fired a single bullet unjustly at civilians!


 I checked on the Internet, at Walmart Online: Walmart offers camcorders for as little as 29,60 $ !


Since no one in the World saw, no one filmed what really happened between the “U.S.N.S. Rappahannock” and that unfortunate, fun-seeking big game fishing yacht, I recommend that the U.S. Navy buys 1 x the cheapest handycam for all its warships and straps them with duct tape to their main weapons for last-ditch defense.

286 U.S. warships x 29,60 $ = 8.465,60 $. Really, I can buy these 286 cameras and pay that price for the Pentagon with my savings, and deliver the box full of handycams to the nearest U.S. Embassy! (Although I hope I don't get machine-gunned 2 kilometers outside the gate too because of that box, and then accused of “ignoring a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses”...)

I just want to help Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the U.S. Navy's Chief of Naval Operations, to SEE what all his electronics-, computer-, satcom-, Aegis-, Artificial-Intelligence-crammed warships are always shooting at on the high sea at peacetime (since the poor man has no clue, no graphic documentation, no black box data at his disposal, no answers to give) !

Just think! Exactly this same incident that happened – coincidentally – with the “U.S.N.S. Rappahannock” could have happened with EVERY OTHER U.S. warship as well, and invariably with the same result: EVERY TIME an U.S. Navy warship attacks another civilian or military ship or plane in peace or war or is attacked, it NEVER documents anything, even if that incident acquires HISTORIC dimensions!

– Footage of the “U.S.S. Maddox” on the 2.4. – 4.8.1964 ?

– Footage of the “U.S.S. Liberty” on the 8.6.1967 ?

– Footage of the “U.S.S. Pueblo” on the 23.1.1968 ?

– Footage of the “U.S.S. Stark” on the 17.5.1987 ?

– Footage of the “U.S.S. Vincennes” / Iran Air Flight 655 on the 3.7.1988 ?

– Footage of the “U.S.S. Cole” on the 12.10.2000 ?

– Footage of the “U.S.S. Impeccable” on the 8.3.2009 ?

– Footage of the “U.S.N.S. Rappahannock” on the July 16, 2012 ?

– Etc. .

I'm not lying. I just see the forest for the trees. That's the TRUE “technological sophistication” of the super-expensive U.S. Navy! Worse than World War One! And I always thought that you U.S. Americans had invented photography, films, television and videos... At least the old Soviet warships were CRAWLING with K.G.B. agents (even ex-Soviet high sea fishing trawlers were!) who literally photographed and filmed and catalogued every yawl at the horizon! Our French, absolutely minuscule COAST GUARD (“Gendarmerie Maritime”) patrol crafts overseas also constantly (= 24/7/365) film and record everything around them in a 360º arc, even when nothing happens, even at night – just in case! Think of it as just a “ship-based C.C.T.V. system”, like you see at the ceiling of every bank or shopping mall.

But all this futuristic Old World technology still hasn't made it to the backwardish New World.


Im an American civilian, and as an American civilian i I was out fishing on a noisy boat in the middle of a noisy shipping route I would have had absolutely no idea that the ship about to fire upon me was a military vessel. None. How someone halfway across the world would know what that far from home ship was or that it was about to attack them is beyond me.

I would not be surprised if the US ship thought it was firing on an Iranian ship, and would have done so regardless of whether or not it thought itself threatened. Think Gulf of Tonkin. It would not be hard for the US to play the victim had they killed an Iranian crew.


Well said! That Turkish “Phantom” jet that recently flew not only across Syria's E.E.Z. but also across its sovereign airspace until it was only 1 kilometer away from the muzzles of Syrian anti-aircraft cannons was such a reenactment of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Pity they didn't nail it right over the beach, just to hear N.A.T.O.'s pornographic attempts at an excuse then!

As I once wrote in another, French Internet discussion forum: “First, the U.S.A. tried to pass U.N.O. resolutions to start a war against Syria (like against Libya) but failed, so now they try again by staging casus belli incidents.”


People are being sent to kill or die just so others can be sent to kill or die. One person is being killed and another has to live with it, either way its wrong to put people in those situations.


What an archetypical Propaganda text! Pure, obscene, unashamed bullsh*t! Like every other U.S. mainstream Press article about this incident, too. Nothing but sand in the public's eyes. Their masters' voice...

1) Once again, the gullible public isn't minimally informed about

a) how close that big game fishing yacht actually travelled to the U.S. Navy cargo ship when it was machine-gunned (not even in meters OR kilometers??),

b) nor how fast it travelled (do U.S. warships not have radars anymore?),

c) nor if it was on a direct collision course! “Deliberate approach” say other U.S. media souces. Very academic... but was that “collision” imminent in only seconds or in... 10 minutes?

Instead, the tourists aboard are just slandered by primitive Propaganda bullhorns like “Battleland” as (quote )

“perhaps piloted by a drunk or deranged captain, or someone suffering from heat stroke.”

How sweet: The psychopath is always the foreigner, never the U.S. soldier or mercenary invading foreign countries, unable to cross a famously narrow strait in the ocean with any other ship in sight (because of his acute U.S. paranoias).

2) Why does the U.S. Press NEVER tell us any details about the (quote)

“series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force” ?

I just can't wait to hear the first public statements of the surviving hobby fishers about that!

U.S. Propaganda screamers just parrot these “prior warning signs” around as if they had all been issued neatly according to textbook, but without ever going into detail. Not even the U.S. Navy says how the “U.S.N.S. Rappahannock” tried to warn the yacht, and if they had a legitimate motive to feel worried!

What would that U.S. Navy cargo ship do in a crammed harbour: Sink every other ship in sight because they're “potential terrorists”, too?

Is it still safe to allow the paranoid U.S. Americans out of their reservation and mingle freely with us Humans?

“Battleland” recently even published a “Youtube” video with a collection of I.E.D. explosions that were obviously caught on camera by mere coincidence (I.E.D.s = something rather sudden and unexpected, and MUCH more seldom than for example seeing and filming shooting stars), but how comes that this time nobody has any footage of the whole incident, not even recorded by a cheap mobile phone? When an U.S. warship fires on a foreign civilian ship on the international high sea, kills innocent people aboard and accuses them of “terrorism”, nobody films anything?? Hmm... why not, if the U.S. Navy cargo ship/tanker even had plenty of time to “use a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force” ?

Was there only 1 person aboard the “U.S.N.S. Rappahannock”, ever-watchful captain Popeye, and he couldn't use his camera or mobile phone because he had to use both hands to fire the heavy machine-gun?

I dare to mutter the baby's name: With so many articles about “P.T.S.D.”, unrecyclable veterans and suicidal U.S. soldiers abounding, are we just looking at another undiagnosed case of widespread U.S. soldier madness?

But wanna bet that that F.U.B.A.R.  U.S. sailor will get a medal? The U.S. Navy is just too afraid now that acting sincerely, admitting its wrongdoing and punishing the berserko at the machine-gun exemplarily would destabilize all its soldiers and lower their guard against true suicide boat attacks. There, since no U.S. American has the verticality to say it, I've said it.

Poor Indian hobby fishers, they don't even know why they have to pay such a high price...

3) Why the F**K is everybody always bringing up the poor “Iranians” ???! Is the U.S. Propaganda apparatus really so DESPERATE now to make up pseudo-threats as excuses for the U.S. Navy's exclusive, totally embarassing f**k-up, for the CRETINISM of the average, triangle-skulled U.S. sailor?

a) The Iranians had nothing to do with that attack on the “U.S.S. Cole” 12 years ago (or shall we discuss this fact, too? I'm ready. Otherwise, why bring them up?) Are you absolutely sure there weren't any North Koreans around...? And what happens next if that suspect yacht was made in China?

b) There wasn't a single Iranian big game fisher on that private yacht either. And even if he was, you couldn't tell that from shooting distance. (It's not enough to be a darkie to automatically be an Iranian or an “al-Qaeda”. You've got a black President, too – have you noticed? – and he's no “Iranian” either)

An officer from the Emirate port authority clearly stated: “I can't emphasize enough that this has nothing to do with Iran.” But “Battleland” doesn't need to investigate, “Battleland” is already ahead of the investigation: “Battleland” KNOWS !

c) Had the U.S. Navy actually assassinated another innocent Iranian civilian in the Persian Gulf out of total lack of competence and self-control, then I DEARLY recommend every U.S. civilian to avoid air travel during the next 6 months or so and to paddle across the oceans instead.

Coincidence “or not”, the Lockerbie attack (on the 21.12.1988) came a mere 5 months after the accidental downing of Iran Air 655 by the U.S. Navy (on the 3.7.1988), and the alleged “Libyan involvement” didn't even convince British courts FOR DECADES !

And dead dictators (Gaddafi) don't speak.


The most likely scenario was that this was a test of the US response. US vessels in that region are subject to many similar small boat challenges all of the time. Iran has a fleet of fast moving small vessels similar to the one intercepted yesterday. These fast, small boats pose a serious threat to larger vessels in the area. We should only need one USS Cole incident to make the point. 

With the US posture in recent years to be far less confrontational, it is not unreasonable for an adversary to test our resolve and do it in a manner exactly like the incident yesterday. 

The Navy has improved the safety of all naval vessels in the region by their considered and measure actions yesterday that did not let a boat close enough to be a bomb. However, the boat was engaged well inside the range from which it could have fired a missile.


Shooting a .50 cal at a boat is "less confrontational" ?? According to whom? Al Qaeda ?? The RAP only has a .50 cal, if they had something bigger you can bet they would have unloaded that on them too! 

Also if they wanted to "test responses", why not pick a real US Naval vessel instead of a civvie manned Oiler ?? 

Lastly, this was a fishing boat operated by a Dubai fishing company a mere 10 kms from a Emirate port. If it was Iranian it would not be operating in Dubai waters. 


 To the poster “IAF101”

You wrote: “The RAP only has a .50 cal, if they had something bigger you can bet they would have unloaded that on them too!”

Not necessarily. You don't put exactly the same kind of sailors on a replenishment ship as on a true warship.

But yes, apparently some sailors are too scummy to work even on a freighter. Too scummy even to own a gun in America.

And when somebody leaves their cage open...


You are clueless about the force protection procedures in place in the Persian Gulf or the threat. The Iranians do test the responses of US naval vessels in the Gulf all of the time. Testing the response of an USNS ship seems a very likely scenario. The Iranian fleet of similar craft operate throughout the region and are not confined to the coast of Iran and across the narrows into the waters off Dubai is not very far in a fast boat. And you the guys manning the Ma Deuces on the deck of the oiler were supposed to know it was a fishing boat because...

That is was a fishing boat means that it is not a potential threat because...

Get real.

I'm glad you aren't created the policy to protect US vessels, including the one my son will shortly be on for his 7th deployment to the region.


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