Iranian Boats Attempt to Intercept British Tanker; UK Orders Heightened Security for All British Ships in Strait of Hormuz and Deploys Second Destroyer to Region
July 11: On Wednesday, July 10 Iranian boats tried to impede a British oil tanker near the Gulf – before being driven off by a Royal Navy ship, the Ministry of Defence has said.
HMS Montrose, a British frigate shadowing the BP-owned tanker, was forced to move between the three boats and the tanker, a spokesman said. No shots were fired. He described the Iranians’ actions as “contrary to international law”.
The British Heritage was near the island of Abu Musa when it was approached by the Iranian boats. Although Abu Musa is in disputed territorial waters, HMS Montrose remained in international waters throughout.
Iran had threatened to retaliate for the seizure of one of its own tankers, but denied any attempted seizure.
Last week, British Royal Marines helped the authorities in Gibraltar seize a tanker believed to be carrying Iranian crude oil because of evidence it was carrying the oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
The British Department for Transport has now ordered all British-flagged vessels operating in the Strait of Hormuz to switch to a state of “heightened security”. The DfT has reportedly sent out a warning urging all British ships in the region to keep a wary eye out for Iranian speedboats and patrol boats “being aggressive towards them.” The British government has also raised the threat level to the highest possible level for merchant ships operating near Iranian waters.
Additionally, Britain has increased its military commitment in the Persian Gulf by moving its timeline ahead in sending a second warship to the region as it seeks to offer reassurance to merchant shipping. HMS Duncan, a Type-45 destroyer, has been ordered to sail to the Persian Gulf after recently completing NATO exercises in the Black Sea. The journey is expected to take about 10 days. The ship will join the frigate HMS Montrose and US allies in the Gulf, but will not be part of an international naval coalition requested by America. It was understood to be bound for the area, but its arrival has been brought forward.