A Royal Navy ship has thwarted an Iranian attempt to seize a British oil tanker in the Gulf following the arrest of one of Iran’s own boats.
HMS Montrose intervened when three Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boats attempted to block the British Heritage on its passage into the Strait of Hormuz.
The Iranian boats ordered the oil tanker to stop in nearby Iranian waters, according to CNBC, in a confrontation filmed by an overhead US aircraft.
However, Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose positioned itself between the Iranian ships and the oil tanker and issued verbal warnings to the boats, a UK government spokesman said.
CNBC reported that it also trained its guns on the boats.
“Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz,” a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said.
“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.”
Iran denied the attempted seizure today, which comes after UK and Iran tensions heightened with the UK’s arrest of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar last week.
President Hassan Rouhani had warned that the UK “will realise the consequences later”.
Rouhani had decried the UK’s seizure of its oil tanker as “mean and wrong”. The oil tanker had been bound for Syria, where trade would breach EU sanctions.
Regarding the Iran’s attempt at retaliating, a US official told Reuters: “It was harassment and an attempt to interfere with the passage.”
HMS Montrose was in the region guarding two British oil tankers – the British Heritage and the Pacific Voyager, which had been positioned off the coast of Saudi Arabia amid fears they could be seized.
The British Heritage had been due to dock in Basra, Iraq, to collect crude oil supplies to deliver to northwest Europe on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell.
However, it made a U-turn amid escalating tensions in the region.
Main image credit of HMS Montrose: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images