Amid escalating UK-Iran tensions in the Middle East, the UK is deploying a second warship to the Persian Gulf to operate for a brief time alongside the ship that fended off an Iranian attempt to block an oil tanker earlier this week.
The UK will send the HMS Duncan, which is currently in the Mediterranean, to the Persian Gulf, and she is expected to join next week the HMS Montrose, the ship that ensured safe passage of a UK tanker through the Strait of Hormuz when it was approached by Iranian military boats earlier this week.
The UK has issued a ‘heightened security’ alert for all Britain-flagged commercial vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz in recent days, Sky News reported on Thursday, quoting two maritime industry sources.
The UK Department for Transport has issued updated guidance in recent days as Iran threatened retaliation after Gibraltar detained last week an Iranian oil tanker en route to Syria.
According to one of Sky News’ sources, UK-flagged ships were advised to keep high alert for Iranian patrol boats “being aggressive towards them.”
Iranian military boats did try to seize a British oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz after threats of “consequences” for the UK following the seizure of the Iranian tanker by Gibraltar.
After the escalation of tensions this week, the UK is sending the second warship that will briefly operate alongside HMS Montrose before HMS Montrose comes off for scheduled maintenance.
“As part of our long-standing presence in the Gulf, HMS Duncan is deploying to the region to ensure we maintain a continuous maritime security presence while HMS Montrose comes off task for pre-planned maintenance and crew changeover,” a UK government spokeswoman said on Friday, as carried by the BBC.
“This will ensure that the UK, alongside international partners, can continue to support freedom of navigation for vessels transiting through this vital shipping lane,” the government said.
The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil chokepoint in the world with daily oil flows averaging 21 million bpd, or the equivalent of 21 percent of global petroleum liquids consumption.