DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A U.S. Navy ship opened fire on a small boat racing toward it in broad daylight Monday near the Persian Gulf city of Dubai, killing one person, according to American officials.
The shooting not far from the Strait of Hormuz occurred amid heightened tensions between the United States and nearby Iran.
A UAE official said the vessel was a fishing boat.
There was no immediate sign of Iranian involvement, or any indication the incident was a reprise of al-Qaeda's 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.
But the incident is likely to focus more attention on the risks U.S. vessels face in the Gulf even as the Navy beefs up its presence in the region.
Lt. Greg Raelson, a spokesman for the Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said a security team aboard the USNS Rappahannock issued a series of warnings before resorting to lethal force about 10 miles off the coast of Dubai's Jebel Ali port.
"The U.S. crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessel's operators to turn away from their deliberate approach. When those efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel, the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a 50-caliber machine gun," he said.
Lieutenant Raelson said the incident is under investigation.
The Rappahannock is an oiler used to fuel other Navy ships while they are at sea.
The United Arab Emirates, which includes the commercial hub of Dubai and the oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi, is a key American ally in the Gulf. American warships frequently visit Dubai's Jebel Ali port, a popular rest stop among U.S. sailors.
A U.S. consular official said one person was killed and three were wounded in the shooting.
Tariq Ahmed al-Haidan, assistant to the UAE foreign minister for political affairs, said all those on the fishing boat were Indian citizens.
The boat appeared to be a civilian vessel about 30 feet long and powered by three outboard motors. It had no obvious military markings.
Similar boats are used for fishing in the region, although Iran's Revolutionary Guard also employs relatively small, fast-moving craft in the Gulf.
U.S. military vessels routinely cross paths with Iranian ships in international waters in the Gulf without incident, but speedboats from Iran's Revolutionary Guard have passed close to U.S. ships in incidents that have raised alarm in Washington.