MANAMA, Bahrain — U.S. warships escorted a Danish-flagged tanker out of the Persian Gulf on Saturday after Iranian gunboats attacked it twice in 20 minutes, the vessel's owners said.
Gulf-based shipping executives said Saturday that it marked the second time in two days that the Navy escorted merchant ships not flying the U.S. flag, in what would represent a deviation from official U.S. policy.
In Washington, a Pentagon spokeswoman denied both reported actions, saying, "We still have a policy of not escorting anyone but U.S.-flagged vessels."
Iranian Revolutionary Guards attacked the 337,700-ton Karama Maersk on Saturday in the southern gulf, shipping officials said. There were no reports of casualties among the 21-man crew, and the shipping executives said the ship, bound for the United States loaded with Saudi Arabian oil, suffered only minor damage.