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U.S. Aid to Danish Ship in Gulf Told

December 20, 1987|Associated Press

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.

Afterward, U.S. warships escorted the tanker through the Strait of Hormuz, a spokesman for the owners, A. P. Moeller Shipping Co. of Copenhagen, said.

On Friday, the Navy similarly escorted the 290,762-ton Norwegian tanker Happy Kari through the strait after it had been attacked by Iranians, shipping officials said.

Meanwhile, the 21st U.S.-escorted convoy of Kuwaiti tankers was sailing south through the gulf after leaving Kuwait, the Navy said.

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