March 25, 2008
U.S.-flag ship in Suez shooting incident
Measures to forestall a potential USS Cole type attack on a U.S. flag ship appear to have had tragic consequences.
The Global Patriot, a ship on short term charter to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command and with an embarked U.S. Navy security team, fired warning shots at a small boat approaching the ship as it was preparing to transit the Suez Canal yesterday. A Navy statement says there were no reports from the Global Patriot of casualties.
However, a BBC report cites Egyptian officials as saying that one man, named as Mohammed Fouad, was killed and two others were wounded. And the Washington Post quotes a telephone interview in which the head of the union of seamen in Suez, Abbas al-Amrikani, told the Associated Press "we are praying over his the body right now," over audible sounds of prayer.
The U.S. Navy statement says that Global Patriot was approached by several boats while preparing to transit the Suez Canal. The boats were hailed and warned by a native Arabic speaker on the Global Patriot to advise them to turn away. Other warning steps, including a signal flare, were used to caution the boats.
One small boat continued to approach the ship and received two sets of warning shots 20-30 meters in front of the boat's bow. All shots were accounted for as they entered the water.
The incident is under investigation. The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet Command is cooperating with Egyptian authorities, including the Suez Canal authorities, through the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.