NEW YORK (AP) _ An Iraqi missile that struck a tugboat in the Persian Gulf in 1985 may have been aimed at a U.S. destroyer, according to a published report.

The New York Times in its Sunday editions quoted unidentified Navy officers as saying that on Jan. 21, 1985, while the destroyer John Hancock was on patrol in the gulf, an Iraqi F-1 Mirage fighter fired a missile that struck a seagoing tug about six miles from the Hancock.

American officers later charted the missile's launching point and the positions of the two ships and concluded that the Iraqi missile had been intended for the Hancock but struck the tug instead, The Times said.

The newspaper said a spokesman for the Navy confirmed the 1985 incident but disputed the contention that the missile had been aimed at the Hancock. A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Edwinna Palmer, said Saturday night she was not aware of any such incident.

Two missiles fired from an Iraqi fighter struck the U.S. frigate Stark last Sunday, crippling the warship and killing 37 sailors. Iraq has apologized, saying the attack was a mistake.