News | UAE

Fishing community stunned by deadly US Navy shooting at sea

Dubai fishermen not buying US Navy's explanation over fatal firing that claimed one life and wounded three

  • By Faisal Masudi, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 July 19, 2012

  • Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Xpress
  • Fishermen at Al Hamriya Port in Dubai.

DUBAI Fishermen in Dubai said they have been left stunned following a deadly shooting of a local fishing boat by a US Navy ship off Dubai’s coast on Monday.

They said there is no precedent of such an incident despite local fishing boats and US Navy ships being present on occasions at the same time in waters off Dubai.

One Indian crew member of the small motorboat was killed and three others badly hurt when the US ship opened fire in waters off Jebel Ali port. American officials said the ship fired on the boat after it ignored warnings to stay back, but the boat’s crew said no warnings were issued as they passed behind the ship.

Tragic blunder

“We’re baffled how this could’ve happened, I’ve been fishing off Dubai for 32 years and there’s never even been a close call,” said Indian fisherman Ganeesan, 45.

“I don’t think any warning was given, there’s been some big tragic blunder. We fishermen and navy ships frequently spot each other, we sometimes share the same general location.

“We never approach navy ships, we usually keep about a kilometre away though there’s no official rule. Navy ships are known to sound horns in the day and fire flares at night to tell others they need to be careful.”

Another Indian fisherman, 40-year-old Sheen Mohammad, said he has not heard of such an incident in his 15-year local fishing experience. “We never think about this happening to us because it has never happened before and isn’t likely to happen again,” Mohammad said.

“How can a tiny fishing boat be a threat to a giant navy ship? How can you mistake fishermen as a threat when there’s technology and intelligence to keep track of everyone out at sea?

“We fishermen feel safe going out to sea and navy ships feel safe regarding us too. But how this incident happened is a big mystery to me.”

Others said they will not be taking special precautions following the incident. “We don’t need to be extra careful as there’s no danger in the first place. Fishermen and navy ships are not unknown to each other, we all know how to do our respective jobs,” said a fisherman in Hamriya Port on condition of anonymity.

US and UAE authorities have said they are investigating the incident. According to US defence officials, personnel onboard the navy refuelling ship, USNS Rappahannock, fired machine gun rounds after “the vessel disregarded non-lethal warnings and rapidly approached the US ship” shortly before 3pm on Monday.

Survivors of the shooting have denied warnings were issued.

Comments (23)

Share your views
  1. Added 13:51 July 19, 2012

    The 'world power' tag allows them to do everything. Who will question them? when they want to pull the trigger, technologies to identify the target like children, women, unarmed men is not applicable. May be they wanted to have some practice session?

    Kiran Karkera, Mumbai, India

  2. Added 13:18 July 19, 2012

    The US navy should compensate the fisherman's family and the injured as well as investigate with the help if the UAE about this incident and hold accountable the person who took the decision to fire on these poor hard working men THERE should be no compromise on this incident the blood of these gentlemen is not cheap...

    Wosim Tahan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 12:54 July 19, 2012

    As long as its someone from the "Third World" countries who was killed, no one would give a bother about this incident! But had it been someone from, let's say, a Western nation., the entire globe would condemn such attack and sternly demand a proper and clear explanation abouty the incident. This is unfortunately the unjust system we are obliged to live with! God bless that innocent fisherman.

    Stuart, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 12:29 July 19, 2012

    This is not an acceptable justification by US authorities. There has been a loss of life and injuries. And never have we heard of any issues like this in the past here.

    fawad, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 12:19 July 19, 2012

    Death & destruction follows wherever Americans go. They kill, murder and maim the innocent and sleekily gets away with it. American Navy spokesman said that they have an "inherent" right to "defend". Does that mean they have a divine license to murder the humanity if their trigger happy soldiers and sailors feel even slightly insecure. And we haven't even spoken about the deadly drone attacks that have killed thousands of innocent people in Pakistan, Iraq & Yemen.

    M Ahmed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 11:32 July 19, 2012

    Interesting thing I would like to know is how fast a fishermen's boat can travel. The way US official states the boat was travelling fast towards them sounds like a speed-boat approaching them at very fast speed. Total rubbish and non-sense.

    UAERe, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 11:14 July 19, 2012

    Brutal. How can be small boat fishermen be a threat to a Giant navy ship?. Incident took place at Jebel Ali. I hope authorities are doing something about it.

    Falguni, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 11:06 July 19, 2012

    Who is telling the truth? The fisherman or the crew on this vessel?

    gerry, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 10:08 July 19, 2012

    You should recall a similar incident that happened in India, Kerala few months ago, where the Indian government took serious action against the shipping company and they had to deposit a huge amount with the court and give a good compensation to the families of the deceased. I believe authorities should take strict action and help the families of the dead get reasonable compensation.

    Suresh, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 10:05 July 19, 2012

    The Americans do this all over the world. Who can stop them? The Red Indians?

    lionel chee, Doha, Qatar

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