I've taken the liberty of copying this news story from "Westword", the community newspaper for Mallaig and the Small Isles as it so completely absurd and ridiculous.
Spanish John in Battleship Drama
A local cargo vessel, the 18 metre landing craft Spanish John II was caught up in a frightening incident with a large battleship in the Minch recently. "I got the fright of my life" said the Spanish John skipper Greig Milligan. "I had no warning of a naval exercise taking place but when the shells were fired, just for a second or two the thought went through my head I hope they aren't firing at me. It was a bit scary".
Friday 28th October had started off quietly enough and although not the best of days weatherwise Greig decided to head for Canna. On board the Spanish John was 40 tonnes of rat poison for the New Zealand team of rodent experts who are ridding the island of rat infestation.
Although hearing some extra activity on the ships VHF Radio Greig left Mallaig Harbour and set course for Canna. Two hours out from Mallaig the silence in the wheelhouse of the Spanish John was broken by an American voice coming over the VHF and that's when Greig noticed the huge battleship in the distance. "Vessel approaching battleship, crossing my starboard side, please pull away now - you are entering my safety zone" was the message which was repeated and repeated with the R.O.'s voice getting more and more high pitched. Greig wasn't too bothered at this point as he was on the port side of the navy ship, none the less he altered course slightly just in case.
The Radio messages kept coming and as Greig could not see any other vessel in the vicinity he began to wonder if it was the Spanish John that the warship was trying to warn off. "Power vessel with black hull and white superstructure approaching on starboard side, please pull away now". This was repeated a further six times with increasing urgency.
Greig was beginning to get very concerned and tried unsuccessfully to contact the warship. The Spanish John has a dark blue hull and the drums of poison on board could explain the white superstructure. Again Greig altered course although still remaining on the port side of the warship.
"Vessel on starboard side, vessel on starboard side you are entering my safety zone - I'll have to defend myself". The Radio Operators tone became more and more agitated, Greig got more and more concerned. Then it came "I'll have to defend myself - I'm opening fire" "I'll have to defend myself - I'm opening fire". Then they came. "Four shells were fired. Two white, two red " said Greig. I did get a fright and being caught up in the increasing tension of the incident heightened the emotions. My brain was in overdrive I just wondered what the hell was going on".
That was the end of the incident, no more histrionics on the VHF by the battleship Radio Operator, no more contact with any other vessel and as the rats on Canna will have found out to their cost the Spanish John safely delivered its load to Canna!
Chance had it that an update on the story of the American warship firing on an innocent cargoboat was broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland early today. An official inquiry is to be held, as the American frigate involved was NOT authorised to use live rounds. It would appear that the skipper of Spanish John II reported the incident to the Coastguard, which launched the inquiry. It's an international incident, which could have some repercussions. I'll keep updating.