Richard Hartley-ParkinsonFriday 26 Jul 2019 7:54 am
A Royal Navy escort will accompany British-flagged ships in the Strait of Hormuz amid growing tensions in the Gulf, the Government has announced.
Ships must give advance notice of their plans so they can be escorted by frigate HMS Montrose.
British-flagged tanker Stena Impero was seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Friday.
The announcement in relation to Royal Navy escorts represents a change in policy.
On Friday, the Department for Transport (DfT) advised ships planning to sail through the Strait of Hormuz to notify the UK authorities so they could, if necessary, arrange for them to travel in convoy.
The Government issued a new statement on Thursday which said: ‘Freedom of navigation is crucial for the global trading system and world economy, and we will do all we can to defend it.
‘The Department for Transport has therefore updated its advice to confirm that 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.’
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, suggested on Wednesday that Stena Impero could be released if the UK takes similar steps to hand back an Iranian oil tanker seized by the Royal Navy off Gibraltar earlier this month.Hundreds of fish saved as lake dries up in heatwave
The remarks could help reduce tensions between the two countries as Boris Johnson takes over as Prime Minister.
Mr Rouhani said: ‘We do not seek the continuation of tension with some European countries.
‘Should they be committed to international frameworks and give up their wrong actions, including what they did in Gibraltar, they will receive a proportional response from Iran.’
Mr Rouhani described the Iranian seizure of the UK-flagged Stena Impero as ‘professional and brave’.
The comments came after the tanker’s owners said the crew are safe following communications with them in Iran.
The vessel was taken by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Friday amid worsening relations between Tehran and the West.
Stena Bulk confirmed it has had direct contact with the crew of the impounded vessel.
The ship’s master said they were all safe and there had been good cooperation with the Iranian personnel on board.
Stena Bulk said the crew’s family members were being kept updated on the latest developments and being offered the firm’s full support.