British-flagged commercial vessels will again be accompanied by Royal Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz, the UK’s defense ministry said.
The move comes amid escalating tensions in the region following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian military commander, by the United States on January 3, 2020.
As announced by Ben Wallace, UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, two Royal Navy ships, HMS Montrose and HMS Defender, would protect the UK shipping in this key oil tanker route.
“I have instructed preparations for HMS Montrose and HMS Defender to return to accompanying duties of Red Ensign Shipping in the Strait of Hormuz,” Wallace said.
“The Government will take all necessary steps to protect our ships and citizens at this time,” he added.
Defence Secretary @BWallaceMP has announced that @RoyalNavy ships HMS Montrose and HMS Defender will resume accompaniments of UK-flagged commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz pic.twitter.com/Z4qXjnWMIA
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) January 4, 2020
In August last year, the UK and the US revealed plans to form a new international security mission to protect vessels in and around the Strait of Hormuz. The two navies decided to work together as they had seen a growing threat to commercial shipping in the shipping lane.
The decision came after attacks on several tankers and the seizure of the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in July 2019. The tanker, which was captured by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) for the alleged breaching of the international maritime law, was released two months later.
World Maritime News Staff