Royal Navy destroyer HMS Duncan has arrived in the Persian Gulf to contribute to the protection of shipping in the region following Iran’s seizure of a UK-flagged tanker earlier this month.
The UK Ministry of Defence confirmed the destroyer would join frigate HMS Montrose, another Royal Navy ship with an identical tasking, in ensuring the safe passage of UK-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz until late August.
Last week, the UK government confirmed that the Royal Navy has been tasked to accompany British-flagged ships through the strait, to provide reassurance to the shipping industry in the aftermath of the seizing oil tanker Stena Impero. The tanker was captured by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) for “breaching international maritime law”, according to Iranian officials.
The action was widely interpreted as a retaliatory measure after Gibraltar and the UK detained in early July the Iranian tanker Grace 1, which was reportedly supplying crude oil to Syria, a country subject to EU sanctions.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani last week even appeared to hint at a possible swap of the two ships, saying Iran “was not going to continue tensions with some European countries and if they are committed to international frameworks and abandon some actions, including what they did in Gibraltar, they will receive a proper response from Iran.”
Frigate Montrose is already busy in the region, having accompanied 35 merchant vessels through the strait during 20 separate transits so far.
“Freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz is vital not just to the UK, but also our international partners and allies. Merchant ships must be free to travel lawfully and trade safely, anywhere in the world,” Ben Wallace, UK Defence Secretary, said.
“While we continue to push for a diplomatic resolution that will make this possible again without military accompaniment, the Royal Navy will continue to provide a safeguard for UK vessels until this is the reality.”
“The security of British-flagged ships is our priority, and we continue to work to de-escalate the situation with Iran following the unacceptable and illegal seizure of the Stena Impero,” Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, said.