The commander of the U.S. naval task force in the Persian Gulf disclosed Sunday that three more Kuwaiti tankers are to be re-registered under the American flag within the next 10 days, entitling them to armed U.S. escort through the embattled waterway.
Rear Adm. Harold J. Bernsen told reporters of the reflagging as the Kuwaiti tanker Gas Prince, carrying a cargo of liquefied petroleum gas, escorted by the destroyer Kidd and the frigate Crommelin, passed the halfway point of the 2 1/2-day journey through the gulf Sunday, en route toward the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Bernsen said he could not identify any of the three tankers due to be reflagged within the next week to 10 days, nor say where they are now or when they are scheduled to arrive in the region.
The admiral would not say whether the three tankers might be reflagged before the giant supertanker Bridgeton, damaged by an underwater mine July 24, leaves the Kuwait loading terminal.
In Washington, the Navy confirmed the departure of the Raleigh, an amphibious ship capable of transporting troops and heavy equipment, from its Norfolk, Va., naval base Saturday night. Press reports said the Raleigh was heading for the gulf region.