Amid ongoing "tanker wars" following the UK's unprecedented and aggressive seizure of a super tanker transporting Iranian oil to Syria last week, which led to an alleged thwarted counter-attempt of Iran's IRGC to block a UK-flagged tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday, Britain says it plans to send a second warship to the region.
Currently the HMS Montrose is shadowing the BP-owned British Heritage tanker after it was approached by IRGC boats — this as Britain raised its threat level to British shipping in the gulf area to its highest. Per government statements, the HMS Duncan, a type 45 Destroyer, will be deployed alongside the HMS Montrose in the region for a short period.
"We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region," a Downing Street spokesman had said Wednesday of the dangerous encounter with Iran's military in the gulf earlier that day.
And on Thursday a separate UK official stated: "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," according to 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." At the moment the HMS Duncan is in Mediterranean waters.
The Pentagon also this week described plans to work with allies to provide military escorts to ships traversing waters near Iran, as concerns grow that any major incident would threaten global oil supplies, which would no doubt send prices soaring.
Already other international ships are reportedly waiting for military escorts prior to entering the Strait of Hormuz, as Bloomberg describes in a breaking report:
VLCC Atlantic Pioneer, an Isle of Man-flagged tanker, sailed near Ras Tanura port in Saudi Arabia, turned away without loading any cargo and is now headed toward the Strait of Hormuz, Bloomberg ship-tracking data shows.
The vessel is expected to wait for an escort from British naval ship HMS Montrose before sailing through the waterway, data intelligence firm Kpler SAS says in note released Friday.
Meanwhile Iran has continued to point the finger at Washington for the soaring tensions and growing "tanker war" after accusing the UK of detaining its some 1 million barrels of oil aboard a Panamanian-flagged vessel "at the behest of" the US government "in line with America's hostile policies".
Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said: "This is a dangerous game and we advise them not get involved in this game under America's influence."
"We ask them again to release the tanker immediately, which will be in all countries' interest," he added.