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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

USNS Rappahannock kills 1 and wounds 2 - Tamilnadu fishermen off Dubai

Indian fishermen had been killed by Sri Lankan Navy,  Italian Marines and now by US Forces........

The killing is the only common binder – the killing of Indian fishermen off Kerala by the Italian Marine was far different scenario than the present one reported today – the killing of a Tamilian fisherman at a far off place.  The vessel Enrica Lexie sailed off after embroiled in legal proceeding but appeared saved more by the diplomatic pressure.  Initially catching little attention of the western media, the row  assumed messy European dimension, with Italian soldiers demonstrating in Rome against the detention and legal action against two of their colleagues.

The Rappahannock River is a river in eastern Virginia, in the United States, approximately 195 miles (314 km) in length. It traverses the entire northern part of the state, from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west, across the Piedmont, to theChesapeake Bay, south of the Potomac River. An important river in American history, the Rappahannock was the site of early settlements in the Virginia Colony, and, later, it was at the center of a major theatre of battle in the American Civil War.

In US vessels are named after Presidents, and rivers among other important things.   USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) is an underway replenishment oiler operated by the Military Sealift Command to support ships of the United States Navy. She was one of only three of the eighteen Henry J. Kaiser-class ships — to be built with a double bottom in order to meet the requirements of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Hull separation is 6 feet (1.8 m) at the sides and 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) on the bottom, reducing her liquid cargo capacity by about 21,000 barrels  from that of the 15 ships of her class without a double bottom.

Today Global Post and Times of India (web edition) mention that the  military supply ship in the Persian Gulf fired on a small boat that ignored warnings on Monday, killing one person on board, according to US officials.  Tarek al-Hedan, an aide to the foreign minister for political affairs in the United Arab Emirates, said, "The firing has led to the death of one Indian national and serious injury of three Indian nationals," according to Al Jazeera.  CNN said the incident happened near the Dubai port of Jebel Ali in the UAE.

In a statement, the Navy said, "In accordance with Navy force protection procedures, the sailors on the USNS Rappahannock ... used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force," according to CNN.  The Navy told Al Jazeera that the crew of the USNS Rappahannock tried to hail the boat on radio and loudspeaker, and also used flashing lights and warning shots before firing a .50-caliber machine gun at the vessel.  A spokesperson for the Navy's 5th Fleet confirmed to ABC News that one person was killed and three others were injured onboard.  A Navy official initially said the vessel was a white pleasure craft, while a UAE official said it appeared to be a fishing boat. According to Iran's state-owned Press TV, the boat appeared to be a civilian vessel, about 30-feet long, similar to boats in the region that are used for fishing.  Press TV noted, "US military vessels routinely cross paths with Iranian ships in international waters in the Persian Gulf without incident, but speed boats from Iran's Revolutionary Guard have passed close to US ships in incidents that have raised alarm in Washington."  [source : Global Post]

Tensions have been high in the Persian Gulf since Iran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping route for a majority of the world's oil supply, and in the clash between giants a small boat and its occupants have been crushed.   Going by the TOI report, the fisherman killed hails from  Ramanathapuram district  of Tamilnadu.   In Rameswaram,Karaiyur Fishermen Association president Malairajan identified the slain fisherman as Sekar,who was from Periyapattinam in Ramanathapuram district. He identified the injured fishermen as Muniraj,Panpuvan and Murugan.Muniraj has been admitted to hospital with bullet injuries. Malairajan said the fishermen worked for a Dubai fishing company on daily wages.

The statement from the Fifth Fleet said the USNS Rappahannock used a series of non-lethal,preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force. The US crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessels operators to turn away from their deliberate approach, it said.When those efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel,the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a.50-calibre machine gun.

Sad for the fishermen from Tamilnadu – there have been killings by Sri Lankan Navy in the pretext of their crossing the International border and now death at far off place, farther away from their homeland where they went to earn their daily bread.

With grief – S Sampathkumar.

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