Royal Navy frigate prevents Iranian vessels from stopping British tanker in Persian Gulf

Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose has chased off five Iranian Revolutionary Guards vessels trying to impede the passage of tanker British Heritage in the Persian Gulf on Thursday.

Royal Navy file photo of HMS Montrose

According to media reports, HMS Montrose positioned itself between the tanker and Iranian vessels and issued verbal warnings before the Iranian boats retreated.

The incident took place after British Royal Marines seized Iranian tanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar last week as it was suspected of breaking sanctions on bringing oil to Syria. Iran had previously warned the UK of consequences for the tanker’s seizure in Gibraltar.

HMS Montrose is forward-deployed to Middle East and is scheduled to spend over two years operating out of Bahrain.

The latest report comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and Iran, following a series of incidents in the Persian Gulf.

Last month, the tensions culminated after a US Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (or BAMS-D) ISR unmanned aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system. 

According to a New York Times report, preparations for a retaliatory attack by the US had been well underway when they were abruptly called off.

US defense officials are now looking to build a coalition naval force that would patrol the Persian Gulf and escort commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz while the US would provide necessary intelligence for the operations.