The UK Royal Navy is planning to deploy one of its most formidable warships to the Middle East region amid rising tensions with Iran, according to reports.
HMS Duncan, a Type 45 Daring-class air-defence destroyer, will set sail to the region in coming days and will operate alongside Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose, which is already in the region, and ships from allied navies.
The Portsmouth-based destroyer recently participated in Exercise Sea Breeze 2019 (SB19), a multinational maritime exercise co-hosted by U.S. and Ukraine, and earlier, a NATO-led mission, Operation Sea Guardian.
The tensions between Iran and the UK has been on a rise after the boarding and seizure of the Iranian supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory near Spain, for allegedly carrying oil from Iran to Syria, in breach of EU sanctions. The seizure was conducted by Gibraltar authorities with the help of around 30 marines from British Royal Marines’ 42 Commando unit.
Following the incident, Iran summoned the British ambassador in Tehran in protest saying it as illegal and a “form of piracy.
A senior Iranian official has also threatened that a British oil tanker will be seized, if a detained Iranian ship is not released. Mohsen Rezaei, the Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council which advises Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, made the threat on Twitter.
It was reported on July 11 that an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp Navy fast attack craft (FAC) harassed and attempted to interfere with the passage of the UK-flagged merchant vessel British Heritage near the Strait of Hormuz. The vessel was reportedly secured by HMS Montrose.