British warship in 115 confrontations with Iran in Strait of Hormuz
Commander of the 'HMS Montrose' reveals Iranian forces' constant aggression since mid-July
A British Royal Navy warship in the Strait of Hormuz has had 115 confrontations with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps since July, its captain revealed.
HMS Montrose captain Will King spoke of the moment that a British-flagged oil tanker, the Stena Impero, was seized on July 19 and the constant threat of aggression the warship experienced from the Iranian authorities.
Commander Will King told the British Daily Mail newspaper that the Iranian officer that seized the tanker boasted “she’s mine now” over the radio to the HMS Montrose, while steering the ship towards Iran.
The capture of the Stena Impero followed the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker, the Grace 1, on July 4 by British soldier near Gibraltar. The ship was suspected of breaching EU sanctions by carrying oil to Syria.
Although the Grace 1 – now renamed the Adrian Darya-1 – was released last month by a Gibraltar court, the Stena Impero is still being held in the port of Bandar Abbas on the Iranian coast.
Cdr King said Iranian officers had been asking other ships travelling through the Strait of Hormuz if there were any British passport holders on board, after discovering that there were none on the Stena Impero.
He said: “There were no British nationals on there, which the Iranians were surprised about. They started asking tankers coming up through the Gulf of Oman, ‘Are there any British nationals there?’”
Before the seizure of the Stena Impero, which has a mainly Indian crew, the HMS Montrose warned off three Iranian gunboats on July 11. UK officials said the Iranian vessels were trying to impede the progress of a British supertanker through the strait.
Two other destroyers, the HMS Defender and the HMS Kent, were sent to join the HMS Montrose to escort merchant naval ships and protect freedom of navigation in the Gulf last month.
In a separate interview with The Times, Cdr King said the IRGC had "heavily" tested the HMS Montrose with fast attack craft and drones on a daily basis since July.
The newspaper reported a confrontation with Iran while its reporter was on board the warship last week. The HMS Montrose was accompanying three British-flagged cargo vessels through the strait when, it claimed, an IRGC drone appeared overhead.
The US is leading the mission to accompany merchant vessels travelling through the shipping passage, supported by Britain and Australia.
Britain’s most senior Royal Navy officer in the Gulf, Commodore Dean Bassett, said the UK was considering bolstering its air surveillance capabilities in the area, exploring options from using drones to a putting a helicopter on the back of a ship.
Updated: September 2, 2019 06:30 PM