A civilian ship contracted by the US military fired a flare and warning shots at two small boats approaching it in the Persian Gulf, the US Navy said Friday. The Western Venture was transiting north in international waters in the central Gulf on Thursday morning when it was approached by two small boats of unknown origin, said Cmdr. Lydia Robertson, spokeswoman for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain. "Following proper procedures, Western Venture issued standard queries to the small boats via bridge-to-bridge radio but received no response," said Robertson. "Western Venture then activated a flare but again did not receive a response." The small boats continued toward the ship, and the ship's security team fired warning shots with .50-caliber machine guns and M-16s into the water in front of the boats causing them to leave the area, said Robertson.