The protest group Greenpeace on Tuesday accused the Navy of "maliciousness" in ramming its flagship as it protested the test launch of a Trident 2 missile.
"We have a message for the Navy," Greenpeace USA Executive Director Peter Bahouth told a news conference. "We are going to take legal action. They are going to have to pay us damages."
He declined to give details or say how much the group might seek in damages for the alleged incident Monday in the Atlantic Ocean 50 miles off the Florida coast just before the submarine Tennessee fired the $26.5-million missile.
The Navy, which acknowledged Monday that it had "shouldered" the protest ship away from the test site, denied Tuesday that its submarine support ships Grasp and Kittiwake rammed the 887-ton ship Greenpeace. The service said that it respected the group's right to protest but that it also had a right under international law to protect itself on the high seas.
Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams said the "Navy reserves and will exercise its right to protect its vessels. . . ."