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US Frigate Fires at Scottish Cargo Boat

AN American warship fired four warning shots across the bow of a tiny Scots cargo boat - just a mile off the coast of Rhum. The USS Klakring radioe d Greig Milligan - skipper of the tiny Spanish John II - with a chilling ultimatum: \"Move away from the safety zone or we will open fire.\" The 41-year-old then heard four explosions and saw four flashes of light - two red and two white. Greig had taken his boat from the port of Mallaig and was delivering 40 tonnes of rat poison to the infested inner Hebridean island of Canna. He saw the ship and then received the first of 10 separate verbal warnings that the vessel\'s space was being invaded. Greig, who was on board with his son Jamie, 16, said: \"I was in a real panic - it occurred to me perhaps they were going to shoot first and ask questions later.I kept trying to contact them but could not get through. Then suddenly we saw four lights and two red and two white explosions came screaming off the battleship. Thank God they didn\'t come at us but we got a real fright. My brain was in overdrive wondering what the hell was going on.\"I just kept thinking that if it was a naval exercise I would have known about it.\" Greig - who runs Mallaig-based Milligan Transport - tried to contact the warship for clarification as the message was repeated. The operator warned: \"Vessel approaching battleship crossing my starboard side, please pull away now, you are entering my safety zone.\" The messages became more and more grave until Greig was warned the ship would open fire. The panicked skipper then tried to alert the boat by shouting to its crew. He said: \"When I got the first warning I wasn\'t in the least bit concerned because I didn\'t think it was intended for me.It was an American radio operator and he was ordering a boat to get out of the ship\'s safety zone.I was on the ship\'s port side and he was warning off a boat on its starboard side.\" But the message was constantly repeated and Greig could hear the operator\'s voice becoming increasingly agitated. He said: \"I couldn\'t see any other vessels, either on the radar or visually, and by this point I was starting to feel a bit uneasy. \"Then another message came which said that the vessel with the black hull and white superstructure should pull away.\" That message was repeated another six times, each sounding more urgent.Greig\'s boat is dark blue and he realised the drums of rat poison on board explained the white superstructure. He added: \"I altered my course again but by this point the tension was almost unbearable. There were the two of us facing down a warship with probably 300 crew. \"I didn\'t know what was happening. I hadn\'t heard anything about any military exercises in the area.\" Last night, the Navy insisted local skippers were well warned about the exercise on October 28. Emails and radio warnings are routinely sent to locals in advance. A spokesman said: \"On the day in question the exercise was in its early stages and there were two Nato frigates, one Dutch and one US, in the area. They were involved in separate \'boarding\' exercises - an important part of training. \"They certainly would have been in touch with each other, probably over the emergency maritime channel and not military channels in a bid to keep things as realistic as possible. \"I don\'t know whether the skipper of the Spanish John II has arrived at the wrong conclusion but if it was all new to him and he wasn\'t experienced, he probably wouldn\'t understand what was happening. But they weren\'t firing at his ship and there were no live weapons.\"