The apparent intensification of security measures for British vessels sailing in the Gulf region takes place in the wake of attacks on oil tankers by unknown perpetrators and Iran’s warnings to London that its ships could be seized in response to the UK’s arrest of an Iranian vessel in Gibraltar.
Royal Navy warship the HMS Montrose has, according to a source speaking on condition of anonymity to Sky News, been tailing the UK oil tanker British Heritage on its way to the Strait of Hormuz on 10 July, the tracking service Marine Traffic shows. The tanker remained stationary for a day until it was caught up to by the HMS Montrose and thereafter started moving towards the strait.
The apparent military escort was detected on the same day as Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani mocked London’s actions, which are allegedly aimed at ensuring the security of its ships following the “unlawful” detention of an Iranian oil tanker on 4 July. He noted that the British ships wouldn’t need to be escorted if the UK didn’t commit acts endangering safety of navigation.
“Now you are so hopeless that when one of your tankers wants to move in the region, you have to bring your frigates [to escort it] because you are scared. Then why do you commit such acts [of seizure]? You should instead allow navigation to be safe”, Rouhani said.
Notably, another UK tanker, the Pacific Voyager, was also followed by a Royal Navy warship and a NATO military vessel…