In the latest clash between Iran and the West, Iranian naval boats attempted to seize a British crude oil tanker is it was sailing into the Strait of Hormuz.
According to reports, “The British tanker Heritage was sailing out of the Persian Gulf and was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area when it was approached by several small armed boats from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC].”
The Iranians ordered the tanker to change course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters.
A report from the British Ministry of Defence stated that “contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz.” According to the ministry, a British escort ship, the HMS Montrose (pictured above) “got between” the Iranian boats and the tanker and issued a verbal warning to withdraw. The situation remained in a standoff for a while and the Montrose actually trained its deck canon on the IRGC vessels. The 30mm guns on Montrose and other escort vessels were installed specifically in order to drive off small boats. Eventually, the IRGC did back off and allowed the Heritage to proceed unimpeded.
According to the Iranian Fars news agency, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard denied the incident ever took place.
The near-miss that took place between the U.K. and Iran shows the Mullahs are at least attempting to make good on their threat to avenge the seizure of their own ship by British forces last week.
While it is good news the IRGC was forced to withdraw, the Iranians don’t actually have to seize a British tanker in order to inflict damage. The very threat of violence against vessels traversing Gulf increases costs on countries doing business in the region. Maritime insurance rates, for instance, have increased tenfold due to recent attacks in the Hormuz area.