Iranian gunboats approached a BP-operated oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz and attempted to impede its passage, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD)
The tanker, British Heritage, was under military escort by British warship HMS Montrose, which trained its guns on the Iranian boats and ordered them to stand down, according to an MoD statement. The Iranian vessels complied and no shots were fired.
“Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz,” the MoD statement 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.”
The incident came following reports from Iran’s official state news agency that Iranian president Hassan Rouhani had again warned the UK of “consequences” in response to Britain’s military detaining tanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar.
Iran has threatened the UK with “repercussions” and suggested it will seize a British vessel in retaliation for Grace 1’s detention. In response, the UK has begun offering military escorts for its tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz.
On 9 July, online ship data watchers spot what they believed to be a British warship or possibly two escorting British-flagged tanker Pacific Voyager on its voyage through the Strait of Hormuz.
On 10 July, Tanker Shipping and Trade saw AIS data showing BP-operated tanker British Heritage flanked by a UK warship escort approaching the Strait of Hormuz.