WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. Navy ship fired three warning shots in the direction of an Iranian boat that was approaching another American ship head-on in the North Arabian Gulf on Wednesday, U.S. officials said, in an escalation of encounters in the region this week.

According to U.S. Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban, the Iranian boat came within 200 yards of the USS Tempest and ignored several bridge-to-bridge radio calls and warning flares. It finally turned away after the USS Squall, which was with the USS Tempest, fired three warning shots from its .50-caliber gun, said Urban, a spokesman for the Navy’s 5th Fleet.

“This situation presented a drastically increased risk of collision, and the Iranian vessel refused to safely maneuver in accordance with internationally recognized maritime rules of the road,” said Urban.

The incident was one of three encounters that U.S. ships had with Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats in the Gulf on Wednesday. And they came a day after four small Iranian boats approached the USS Nitze at high speed in the Strait of Hormuz. The boats veered off after the U.S. fired flares.

The same Iranian boat that harassed the USS Tempest also crossed in front of the USS Stout three times at a high rate of speed on Wednesday in the same region. Urban called it an “unsafe intercept” and said the USS Stout, a guided missile destroyer, had to maneuver to avoid a collision.

In the third incident, three Iranian boats crossed in front of the USS Tempest at high speed, coming within 600 yards of the ship. The Tempest and the Squall are patrol ships.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook acknowledged the three incidents Thursday, but said he did not have details. He said the U.S. ships are conducting themselves in a safe and professional manner and they will continue to take whatever steps they need to protect themselves.

Video of the incident involving the USS Nitze shows American sailors firing flares and sounding the warship’s horn as the Iranian boats approached. A sailor can be heard saying that the weapons on the Iranian boats were “uncovered, manned.”

Iran’s defense minister said Thursday that his naval forces will warn or confront any foreign ship entering the country’s territorial waters.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Hosein Dehghan as saying that “if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it’s an invasion, we confront.” He added that Iranian boats patrol to monitor traffic and foreign vessels in its territorial waters.

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is starting a site offering research, reviews and other information on new and used cars.

The latest venture by the e-commerce powerhouse will compete with established players in the field including CarSoup.com, Edmunds.com, truecar.com and cars.com.

Amazon Vehicles won’t sell cars. But in addition to car specifications, images, videos and customer reviews, the new site will let customers ask each other questions about cars.

Amazon.com Inc. already sells car parts and accessories in its Amazon Automotive store.

From its roots as an online bookseller, the Seattle company has expanded into a myriad of arenas. Most recently it launched a site for handmade goods, introduced a voice-recognition speaker and has begun creating original movies and TV shows.

WASHINGTON (AP) — One by one, swimmer Katie Ledecky handed her Olympic medals to Bryce Harper. Four gold medals and one silver from the Rio Olympics sat in the hands of the reigning National League MVP.

As the Nationals star outfielder held the medals on his arms like a rack, Ledecky threw the ceremonial first pitch to reliever Shawn Kelley before the Baltimore Orioles beat Washington 10-8 Wednesday night. It was a strike over the plate.

“I’ve swum in front of 14,000 people,” Ledecky said. “Once the ball leaves the hand, you can’t really control it.”

Ledecky, a native of nearby Bethesda, Maryland, has thrown out the first pitch at Nationals Park before. That was in 2012 after she won the 800-meter freestyle at the London Olympics as a 15-year-old.

“I think I’ve gotten stronger and a lot’s happened in four years,” she said. “I’ve been to a couple world championships, more international meets, another Olympics, I’ve gone through high school, I’m heading out to college. Looking back four years ago, a lot has changed since then.”

Ledecky has become more dominant.

She tied as the most decorated U.S. female athlete in Rio de Janeiro along with gymnast Simone Biles and just short of Michael Phelps for the most among Americans. Before Ledecky’s first pitch, a tribute played on the video board featuring a clip of her world record-shattering victory in the 800M freestyle in Rio when she won by more than 11 seconds.

The 19-year-old met several Nationals before the game, including Harper, whom she called one of her favorites. They didn’t give her any tips on the first pitch, which she said she practiced plenty Tuesday, but they were curious about her five medals.

“They all wanted to see how heavy they were and things like that,” Ledecky said. “They are pretty heavy. It was kind of a different feeling for me to have them be a fan of me when I’ve been a huge fan of theirs for a couple years.”

Ledecky got a warm reception on the field 20 minutes before the start of the game but a rousing standing ovation when she was shown on the video board before the fifth inning. Fans cheered and broke out in chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

She said her accomplishments in Rio are “slowly but surely” sinking in, only days after the closing ceremony.

“I expect it’ll sink in as we move forward the next couple weeks,” Ledecky said. “Once I get back in the pool and start working toward my next goals, I know you just kind of have to put everything you’ve done behind you and start working toward the next thing.”

For now, the next thing is college. Ledecky will be a freshman at Stanford in the fall and plans to take some time off before starting school.

Before she finds out who her roommate is, Ledecky’s mind is already on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

“It’ll probably be the longest break I’ll take in the next four years,” she said. “It’s just nice to be out of the water a little bit and get recharged for the next four years.”

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Officials say roughly a dozen inmates were involved in an attack on nine staff members at a Nebraska prison.

Lincoln Correctional Center spokeswoman Tammy Kluver said Thursday that investigators are trying to determine exactly what happened. The Nebraska State Patrol is reviewing video footage of the incident that took place Wednesday evening in a small courtyard.

Prison officials say the inmates involved had refused to return to their cells.

Kluver says the injured employees were treated at hospitals and released. One female staff member required staples to close a gash in her head. Authorities used pepper spray to subdue the inmates.

Gov. Pete Ricketts plans to meet with prison officials Thursday to discuss the incident.

The Lincoln Correctional Center, a medium-maximum security prison for adult males, remains on lockdown.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s naval forces will warn or confront any foreign ship entering the country’s territorial waters, the Iranian defense minister said Thursday, remarks that came after an incident this week involving a U.S. warship.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Hosein Dehghan as saying that “if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it’s an invasion, we confront.” He added that Iranian boats patrol to monitor traffic and foreign vessels in its territorial waters.

Dehghan’s comments came after four Iranian small boats sailed near the guided missile destroyer USS Nitze on Wednesday in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Navy described the incident as “unsafe and unprofessional” and said it occurred in international waters in the narrow Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. Navy video of the incident obtained by The Associated Press shows American sailors on the Nitze firing flares and sounding the warship’s horn as the Iranian boats approached.

Earlier, U.S. Adm. John Richardson said the incident involving the Nitze reflects the greater competition the U.S. is facing at sea and underscores the naval tensions with Tehran, which include other similar incidents.

In January, Iran briefly detained 10 U.S. Navy sailors who mistakenly steered into Iranian waters.

Last December, Iranian ships fired rockets near U.S. warship and other vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, and a month later flew an unarmed drone over the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — An autographed New England Patriots football helmet stolen from a restaurant near Gillette Stadium has been returned along with an apology.

Foxborough police say the helmet signed by members of the 2014 Super Bowl championship team was delivered to Skipjack’s restaurant on Wednesday, almost two weeks after it was stolen.

The package also contained a note that said “sorry for the trouble!” and $70 for the thief’s unpaid tab.

Police released surveillance video from the restaurant that shows a man wearing a Tom Brady jersey climb over the bar in the empty restaurant, grab the helmet and wrap it in the jersey before walking out without settling his bill.

Chief Ed O’Leary says his detectives are still trying to track the man, although it’s unclear whether he will face charges.