The British flagged ‘Stena Impero’ tanker has been seized by Iran.

The vessel had taken a very sudden turn into Iranian waters despite her original destination being Saudi Arabia, according to data relayed by maritime tracking services.

It is understood that the company, Stena Bulk, have confirmed that there are 23 personnel on the ship and that the ship was approached by “unidentified small crafts and a helicopter”.

The company said in a statement:

“There have been no reported injuries and their safety is of primary concern to both owners and managers. Northern Marine Management has not been able to establish contact directly with the vessel since it was notified of the incident at approximately 16.00 today, 19th July 2019.”

The British Government’s emergency committee, COBRA, is meeting to discuss the incident.

Iran’s PressTV has also reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps took control of the UK-flagged Stena Impero.

This is the second foreign vessel Iran has seized int he last month, the country recently released footage of an Iranian vessel circling the Panama-flagged tanker Riah.

The Stena Impero is now in Qeshm in Iran but had been originally sailing towards Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have confirmed the news.


Earlier in the month, Iranian naval craft unsuccessfully attempted to seize a British flagged oil tanker in the Persian Gulf. The tanker ‘British Heritage’ was sailing out of the Persian Gulf and was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area when it was approached by boats from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose.

Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose had been escorting the tanker and it has been reported that the British warship ‘pointed its guns at the Iranian boats’ in order to deter the seizure.

The Iranian boats then reportedly withdrew after HMS Montrose warned them to move away.

Image result for Iran
‘Grace 1′ being boarded by Royal Marines’

This chain of events started when a fuel tanker believed to be carrying crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions was detained in Gibraltar.

The vessel, ‘Grace 1’, was halted in the early hours of this morning by Gibraltar police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of Royal Marines.

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Daniele Mandelli

Oh dear HMG.

Chickens home to roost now.

Ari Kivimäki
John Hampson

DM. Not just numbers but the ships the RN does have are woefully inadequate to deal with Iranian swarms and their hype fast boats. To use the jargon of the time, they are not “fit for purpose” but these same politicians are possibily about to gamble with the lives of sailors.


We stumbled over the Falkland invasion by drawing down assets over time and, we’re learning very little. Admittedly, we are setting up more bases abroad, which is a wise move. However, whether we like it or not, the UK is in the thick of this current crisis, and it will require delicate diplomacy. Strangely, we intercepted the Iranian tanker because it was smuggling oil to Syria against, EU law??? Don’t hear too much support from our friends on this arrest? Tick tock…..tick tock.


Just been listening to a BBC interview with the old British ambassador to Iran. He stated that HMG has not helped itself by refusing to clarifying what the legal reason was for stoping Grace I in Gibraltar.


Whoever made the call to board the Iranian tanker is just an idiot. Its clear as day our tankers are a soft target to them and the response was predictable. Good luck getting the tanker back. There is little left for Iran to lose through sanctions. They know we will not use military action so what’s the other options? Seize more of their ships in a tit for tat? That would end as badly for us as it would them.


So where was the escort.!!


probably escorting a different british tanker,problem is there are more tankers than naval vessels which the Iranians know and will have been waiting and watching for the right opportunity..Hopefully it,s a different outcome though

Dafydd thomas

True but if possible should operate in a convoy – should be plenty of US warships in the area to do this task and a few UK ships as well.


Indeed, if anything this is an even greater prize for the Iranians as it is British flagged as well as owned.


We should have been aware of this before we took the tanker at Gib, but in my experience that would be the last thing the MOD would think of.


With friends like this we are in trouble.How Trump’s arch-hawk lured Britain into a dangerous trap to punish Iran.john bolton trumps nsa.

Nick Cole

Not the MOD but the politicians dictating how many ships etc we can have.

Mad Murdoch

In a Tom Clancy novel, the escort receives orders to leave the tanker, or receives a distress call, a red herring planted, leaving the tanker alone and giving the enemy a chance. If I remember rightly Tom Clancy said it would all happen when the EU/Turkish border, Afghanistan and Syria kicked off. Cue Trump… although in the novel, the US President knows where the Straits of Hormuz are and there is no mention of Iran Air 655, or the crew of the USS Vincennes being awarded medals. I think we’ve lost the lesson from Nelson and Wellington about being less… Read more »

David Flandry

The current US president knows where the Straits of Hormuz are.

Official USA President Analysis

Sir, the current US president is a jackass … an A-grade plonker.


Sure he does, Hormuz is one of his very best friends.

Chris J

Is that a statement of fact or wishful thinking?


One word: “Convoy”… This is all going to end poorly IMHO.



If this is true then the British government should resign immediately! Unbelievable incompetence!

Daniele Mandelli



why? so there isn’t enough of a naval presence there – that has ben the case for many years, oh and the fleet is depleted – but thank ALL previous governments for that since 1982. Why isn’t NATO/coalition of the willing putting together a proper escort fleet? The west should be deploying ships, helicopters and marines to ensure EVERY vessel has protection. UK has started doing this but most countries have done nothing. I don’t see this as pandering to Trump, its just protecting assets and supply lines in international waters.


The number of commercial vessels is much greater than all world navy.


This isn’t showing on the BBC website yet.

Time to invest in a few more escorts.

Daniele Mandelli

If true.

Always after the horse has bolted with HMG.

178 billion equipment plan! We hit the 2% !!!

Increase escorts you fool’s! 17 is a ludicrous amount.


If you want to be really frank, the number is even lower than that. 2 x T45 in deep or about to enter deep refit (Daring stripped, Dauntless to go to for engine work), 3 x T23 in deep refit in Devonport with 2 x T23 coming out of refit. Unlikely those in deep refit would go to sea soon. I’d still argue that we need to: a). Increase the funding for T26 allowing for the build rate to pick-up, b). create a well funded T31 programme and increase the number of vessels to be procured, with the aim of… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

It is Lusty.

I’d rather not think about it!

Politicians of all shades need to be held responsible.


Agree. Policy of cutting 3 23’s and the last 4 22’s was wrong. I can almost live with some of the cuts, but a strong escort fleet is needed*.

*Must add, such a fleet needs to be backed by more airframes, such as Wildcat. If there was ever a case for rolling out Martlet faster, this would be it.

I’m now seeing reports of this from multiple news agencies.

Daniele Mandelli

To think it was reported that Fallon had agreed to those 2017 cuts, one option that was to include removing Wildcat! Leaving the RN with 30 Merlins!

Agree need more Merlin and more Wildcat. Maybe a UAV rotor type even?


A couple of points I would like to make on this. 1. Many of us on this forum have been highlighting the need for volume of a key set of assets for some time now, the nature of defence means you dont really know where the next attack is coming from, so you need capability, reach and the ability to sustain in the required numbers. 2. None of us have been asking for the unrealistic, but it is fair to say that the MOD is $10-15bn short per annum in what it needs (given I cant work out what it… Read more »


You have been highlighting the need but no one in authority has been listening!

Paul T

Lusty – regards the T22,the Romanian Navy has just announced their two ex RN ones are to be upgraded plus they are to buy 4 new Gowind Corvettes in a contract with Naval Group (France ) and local partner SNC.Id guess most on here would think the RN T22’s were retired way too early,it will be interesting to see what the Romanians end up doing with theirs.


The Beeb is now quoting Iranian media which are claiming to have seized a British tanker.

We really do need more escorts.


You and UK need really wisdom this is result what the UK have done before.(this is one for one ).please think about sanction against Iran?they are just protecting their country.US sponsored ISIS why you keep silenced ….

Paul T

Another agree from me too, bearing in mind the maintenance/ refit schedules of modern Warships, the size of the Defence Budget and our economy perhaps an escort fleet of 25 -26 is about where numbers should be – enough resilience for unpredictable events but not so much that it’s a financial burden.


This is an “Emperor’s got no clothes!” moment, so I hope the media pick this up at last & tell the public what disgracefully few ships we have left so we finally do more than empty promises & rebuild the fleet so it can actually do the jobs we need of it. I hope our tankers kept within international shipping lanes, so they gave no provocation to the Iranians, but we just don’t know for certain yet. I agree with Lusty that it was madness to dispose of perfectly good warships , let escorts fall below 26, plus let manpower… Read more »


I guess it will be a trade of one tanker for another. Iran are really not helping themselves by lashing out. They have more to lose than anyone else if tensions contnue to rise


Oh dear, UK is messing with the wrong country


What do they have left to lose? The sanctions are already hitting them hard. All they have left is their self respect


UK started this game.


This is the price UK should pay for seizing Iranian tanker. Every action has a next coming reaction. You wouldn’t probably expect us to sit and watch all your illegal actions and do nothing, would you?


We really need to give Iran a massive bloody nose, unfortunately our forces have been run down too much. What we need now is the use of the urgent operational upgrade process to ensure Montrose (lmm etc) can take it to the Iranians and that we can get the assets to the gulf to put the Iranians in their place, instead of the dreaded FFBNW!!


No we don’t need any of that. We need some national humiliation just like when the Dutch sailed up the Thames and burnt the laid up RN. Then we rebuilt our Navy.


I have to disagree, it is already a national humiliation, we need to make clear countries like Iran cannot walk over us, but unfortunately repeated governments gave allowed them to think they can!! This is where the repeated cuts are laid bare!

Daniele Mandelli

National humiliation.

Maybe the only way to get politicians to understand once they look bad.


Great idea let’s not have an MPA capability, scrap those Batch 3 Type 22s, sack thousands of personnel, scrap carriers, harriers and why bother with ASMs. Well done Dave and George!

Oh wait can it get any worse, we’ll lets try said St Theresa. We’ll board an Iranian tanker and then not ensure all British ships are adequately protected. Why bother sending a 100 RMs and their ORC because it will only provoke them.

Of course as Theresa said yesterday it is important to compromise in modern day politics.

Anyway why would an island trading nation want a Navy.


And of course the top comment in newspaper articles was outrage over where the escort was. Well general public, this is the result of repeated cutbacks to the military that you were perfectly content to allow. Maybe it will sink into some people’s minds now that as island nation we need the strongest navy our nation can reasomably support, though I’m not holding my breath.

Ian Smith

Let:s hope it:s a Trojan Tanker. There is always hope and the infinite resource of blind optimism which we rely on to replace proper resource AND TIME PLANNING!


Nothing in the world, nothing you may think of, or anyone may tell you, no arguments however specious, no appeals however seductive must lead you to abandon that naval supremacy on which the life of our country depends.

My God he must be fuming looking down on us.

sabre saad

We Don’t Need New WORLD WAR ):


Well what goes around comes around.


Bbc now reporting 2nd uk vessel has been captured.


THERE IS THE MAIN Iranian Naval Base, home port to fast boats and subs, just to the north of the straights. If there were no fast boats, there would be no more diversions. Seems more cost effective to reduce the fast boats to floatsom and create reefs out of the subs?

Ewiak Ryszard

We can sleep in peace. From 1945 (Operation Unthinkable) Heaven is holding back the wind of the WW3. And so it will be until the appointed time. The Book of Daniel says: “And both these kings [Great Britain and Russia. In 1882 British troops occupied Egypt. Great Britain then took the role of “the king of the south”. Around the same time, Russia expanded its influence in the region, which previously belonged to Seleucus I Nicator, and took the role of “the king of the north”], their hearts (will be) to do mischief, and at one table (they) will speak… Read more »

Agent Q

Time to send in that new 007. I’m sure she’ll have it in hand.


Time to bring in the SBS we should not stand for this.


That area should be patrolled and the laws enforced by the neighboring countries. Arab countries can’t even take care of a tiny waterway in their own backyard. They are useless.


Could someone help me fill in a few blanks please. Reports I have read say that HMS Montrose was 60 minutes away at the time ( I assume that is based on time needed to sail at full speed. I’m not going all boy’s-own here and implying a course of action that should have been taken but I’ve realise that I don’t know some pretty basic things… 1 – Are marines always aboard a deployed T23 and/or T45? If so then is there a standard detachment size and, if yes, then what is it? 2 – Will a deployed T23… Read more »


RM detachments are common place on Gulf deployments irrespective of the vessel. They are the Primary Boarding team and are supported by the Ships own Boarding team.

Gulf deployed units usually carry a Wildcat. rule of thumb is a tail equipped T23 gets a Merlin everyone else gets Wildcat.

John G.

Thanks for the info. The Revolutionary Guard will be most grateful.


Looks like every British Flagged tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz will need a RN escort. The Iranian Govt. led by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps now have a bargaining chip. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps must be jumping for joy right now, they just relish any opportunity for confrontation with the West. Question: Why did Britain leave this tanker vulnerable, was it just too few RN frigates in the region to escort British Flagged ships through known troubled waters. Why give the “thugs” in the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps the opportunity in the first place.… Read more »


In my humble and uneducated (in RN terms) opinion we need to obtain/build at least 12 FAST PATROL craft not unlike the Norwegian SKLOD 15 or so crew and are fast well armed and project a “certain amount of don’t mess with me” Just and idea having seen on in the Caribbean a few years ago.

Nick Cole

Clearly we have far too few general purpose ships in the Navy nowadays. So much for the peace dividend, and continual cutbacks. A pity it now takes 4 or 5 years (or longer) to build ships. We barely have enough to equip a carrier based battte group, let alone take on a myriad of minor but significant ‘policing and protection’ roles. We need at least a squadron in the gulf not just a solitary frigate/destroyer.

Chris J

Nothing short of a complete dereliction of duty by HMGs of past and particularly present has led directly to this situation. It was entirely predictable that Iran would try such a move following the seizure of the Grace 1 off Gibraltar.

There appears to have been little or no planning from HMG to protect our own shipping in the area. Simply telling bulk carriers and tankers to ‘be careful’ in the Strait of Hormuz is not enough.

Those in HMG and the civil service responsible for this mess should hang their heads in shame.

andy reeves

i think this iranian rubbish could result in a major political effort to increase the size of the royal navy.and fast.


I just watched the video of the “Elite” IRG rapid roping onto the tanker.

How i laughed when one of the Elite IRG was still halfway down the rope when his Elite IRG mate’s size 9s arrived on his head!

If you are going to Rapid Rope learn to do it properly
If you are going to swarm on a rope definitely learn to do it properly.

Other wise it just ends in tears with someones boot prints on your head . I know this from personal experience doing training as 2 i/c of a boarding team.

Dr strangelove

If we nuked Tehran (or wherever their heads of state reside) maybe there could be a regime change? Surely this would ease tensions.


More on how the USN (USMC) took down that Iranian drone:



What an embarrassment for the Royal Navy which, according to one newspaper today, only has ‘elderly’ ships with more admirals than vessels and an aircraft carrier with no jets. Where have all these millions of pounds been spent?

Michael francis

interesting seeing the comments. Yes we all want more RN ships but the honest truth is that we as a country cant afford it and even if we could where would we get the personnel.
I looked at since 1982 defence spending has dropped because cold war is over and healthcare and pensions have rocketed. The UK may need a different way to project its power


Why did Montrose not use her helo to stop any Iranians landing on board the tanker.