In Unpredictable Persian Gulf, U.S. Avoids Tying Navy’s Hands on Self-Defense

In Unpredictable Persian Gulf, U.S. Avoids Tying Navy’s Hands on Self-Defense

On Monday, a U.S. Navy refueling ship in the Persian Gulf opened fire on what turned out to be a fishing boat, killing one Indian man and wounding three others after they ignored several warnings to stop their rapid approach.

While the U.S. has offered condolences to the families of the fishermen, it has suggested that the use of force was justified, particularly in the context of a Navy that is more wary than ever of the dangers small boats can pose to large ships.

“Starting with the USS Cole attack, the U.S. Navy came to recognize that there were threats to ships during peacetime that they had not really had to address before,” said Eric Thompson, vice president and director of CNA Strategic Studies, explaining that while small boats had threatened large ships in times of war, the 2000 suicide attack in peacetime “served as a wake-up call that there is a new kind of threat that is less predictable, not associated with a conflict in the traditional sense and can strike anywhere.”

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