Boris Johnson has ordered the Royal Navy to accompany all British-flagged vessels through the Strait of Hormuz in a dramatic escalation of the crisis with Iran.
The ramping up of the navy’s protection mission by the new PM comes in the wake of Iran seizing Brit tanker the Stena Impero.
The navy has HMS Montrose currently deployed in the Strait of Hormuz and it has reportedly already carried out the first escort under the new protection plan.
Another surface ship, HMS Duncan, a nuclear powered submarine and Royal Marine Commandos could also be sent to bolster the UK presence.
“The Royal Navy has been tasked to accompany British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz, either individually or in groups, should sufficient notice be given of their passage,” said a government spokesman.
“Freedom of navigation is crucial for the global trading system and world economy, and we will do all we can to defend it.”
The move came just hours after new Prime Minister Boris Johnson took office.
The current tension between Iran and the UK began when Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker at the request of the US.
The Grace 1 is currently detained in Gibraltar amid suspicion it was taking oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.
Under the new Royal Navy escort mission, UK-flagged ships have been told to give the Department of Transport sufficient notice of their travel plans in the area, Sky News reports.
Ships might be grouped together in convoys or accompanied individually depending upon how many are travelling on a given day, according to sources.
Britain has been seeking to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.
On Friday, the Revolutionary Guard launched a gunboat and helicopter raid on Stena Impero, which is registered in the UK, claiming it had turned off its tracker and ignored warnings.
Iran’s seizure of the tanker was described as an “state piracy” by the government.
Another vessel, the Mesdar, was also intercepted and forced towards Iranian territory in what appeared to be a co-ordinated strike.
State TV footage shows Iranian armed forces on board the Stena Impero after it was seized in the Strait of Hormuz.
The clip is thought to have been filmed in the southern port of Bandar Abbas, where jet boats have been sailing around the British ship
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Source: The Sun