Vincennes was known in the Navy as "Robo Cruiser," a ship under the aggressive command of Captain Will Rogers III who, along with his crew, seemed to like to menace and shoot just about anything that moved.
Reagan's contemptuous initial response to reporters: "Understandable…Ever been in combat?" he angrily snapped. Later on Reagan from Camp David:
We deeply regret any loss of life. The course of the Iranian civilian airliner was such that it was headed directly for the U.S.S. Vincennes, which was at the time engaged with five Iranian Boghammar boats that had attacked our forces. When the aircraft failed to heed repeated warnings, the Vincennes followed standing orders and widely publicized procedures, firing to protect itself against possible attack.