The UK’s Ministry of Defence has revealed three boats belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards tried to seize an Isle of Man-flagged tanker yesterday, which was transiting the Strait of Hormuz, in an apparent retaliation for British armed forces taking an Iranian tanker, Grace 1, in Gibraltar earlier this month.
BP Shipping tanker British Heritage was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area when it was approached by three Iranian boats. The tanker was ordered to stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters, however a Royal Navy frigate, HMS Montrose, which had been escorting the tanker through the strait, aimed its guns on the Iranians and warned them to move away, which they did.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz.
“HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away.
“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.”
Tensions have escalated between the UK and Iran over the Royal Marines’ seizure of the Grace 1 in Gibraltar last Thursday, something Tehran has vowed to respond to. The Grace 1 was carrying a cargo of Iranian oil bound for sanctions-hit Syria.
The latest incident in the Strait of Hormuz will likely bolster moves by the US to create an international naval coalition to help merchant shipping navigate safely through the area where six tankers have been holed in attacks in the past two months.