The threat comes after Royal Marines seized an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar for trying to take oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

Earlier, the Gibraltar government (Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory) said it had reasonable grounds to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying crude oil to the Baniyas refinery in Syria.

An image issued by the Ministry of Defence of the supertanker Grace 1, believed to be carrying 2m barrels of crude oil to Syria.

“That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria,” Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said.

“With my consent, our port and law enforcement agencies sought the assistance of the Royal Marines in carrying out this operation.”

Mohsen Rezai, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Twitter:

Roughly translated, this means:

“If the UK doesn’t return the Iranian tanker, the duty of responsible bodies is to seize a British oil tanker in a retaliatory measure.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador to voice ‘its very strong objection to the illegal and unacceptable seizure’ of its ship earlier in the week.

The UK has a naval base, a Frigate, and other naval vessels in the region.

Last month we reported that the Government have “no plans” to send Royal Marines to protect shipping in the Gulf.

Attacks on tankers near the Strait of Hormuz had already ratcheted up tensions in the Gulf in recent weeks, this latest event is surely set to increase them.

Nia Griffith, the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, had earlier asked in a Parliamentary written question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether her Department plans to send a Royal Marines task group to the (a) Persian Gulf and (b) the Strait of Hormuz to protect British commercial vessels.”

Mark Lancaster, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, said:

“We have a permanent presence in the Gulf in support of the strong bilateral relations across the region and the UK National Strategy for Maritime Security. We have no plans to send a Royal Marines task group but will continue with the existing exercise programme and deployment of Short Term Training Teams.”

The United States has said it will deploy 1,000 more troops to the region, in addition to the 1,500 it had announced in late May.

It remains to be seen what the British Government will do.

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Is this the first domino? Just our luck to be right at the forefront once again. If we act internationally (Gib tanker intervention) we should have the commensurate armed forces and naval punch. UK foreign policy is nearly always at odds with the MOD budget and that blasted Treasury. This crisis if it escalates, is most likely to be a naval operation, so are we ready?


No we aren’t ready! Well for a full on war anyway, small skirmishes hell yeah.. But Iran’s got some amount of gear.


But there is no way on this earth that we would be alone in this. The US, France, Australia etc would all be in on the action as this is not a unilateral sanction we have enforced.

Nigel Collins

“It remains to be seen what the British Government will do.”

Begin to realise what a mess our defence capability is in and inject more money to give our armed services a fighting chance.

The Royal Navy, for example, is in desperate need of a new anti-ship missile. Why wait until we have a crisis on our hands before we start spending on the equipment that’s required???

John Hampson

I agree entirely. Navy vessels are dangerously underarmed. Neither Type 45, 23 or even the new Type 26 could defend against an Iranian swarm attack. There is virtually no protection at the aft.


The whole idea of a swam doesn’t really add up to me. It is a suicide mission equiv to kamikaze pilots, for a lot of the swam (the idea is to overwhelm a ship by using lots of light ships, many of which would be destroyed on the way in). Would a boat full of trained sailers really agree to that level of risk. Yes there are suicide bombers from Iran but they are normally low paid desperate people and not trained sailors.

It’s a great theory but in practice, I am not sure it would work.


Hi Steve Good to hear your opinion. But I’m pretty sure that back in WW2 the trained Japanese kamikaze pilots didn’t see it as risk at all.. but a matter of honour.( Their success rate was 19% by the way) I suspect that the chance to take out a British vessel would be of great honour to those passionate enough to do it. “Low paid? Desperate? Want to go down as someone that took out a British destroyer? Stick it to the UK, earn money for your family and bring honour to your country” I can see people answering that… Read more »


But your talking one guy Vs dozens. One guy for sure you can get an idiot even for the UK but a dozen is a massive different question.


Steve, a brief history lesson regarding Muslim fanatics as witnessed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Once you install a belief in somebody that if they sacrifice themselves in the services of God and take along some infidels, you are guaranteed a seat at God’s table but also entry into paradise. Some 50% percent of the people we fought in the counter-insurgency of either Iraq or Afghanistan were foreigners fighting a supposed Holy war against as they saw it infidels. Admittedly most of these people were from very poor backgrounds, had no education to speak off, very little military training and… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Sobering report Davey.

As usual HMG will probably react when it is too late, if it comes to it.


They are armed forces fighting for their county and culture, they are not fanatics. They see us as the aggressor and just as our armed forces will fight to protect our national interest so will theirs.

Let’s not dehumanise here they have the same nationalist motivation as we do.

We should not confuse isis and that branch of madness (which was created by Iran’s opponents)with the general geopolitics of the Middle East.

Darren Sharrocks

Good point, in our PC games world the enemy is stupid. They come down a perfectly good defensible hill, stand up and fire at us from the hip while at the same time they present lovely targets. People are not stupid and because they are keen as mustard in that they fight for a cause. It does not mean they are daft


I have no doubt there are many people in Iran that are fundamentalists and believe killing themselves for their cause is the way forward (there are many people in the UK that think that way), but these are the type of people that can pick up an AK (a gun designed by Russia to be idiot proof as they believed in numbers of quality) and fire it, they are not the type of people that make it into the navy. The Iranian navy might not be as trained as the the RN but it is a professional navy, not a… Read more »

The artist formerly known as Los Pollos Chicken

One thing they are not is “desperate” once you understand Islam and the ideology behind it which alas the majority living in the West are simply ignorant of then you see why they do what they do. They are simply following what the Koran tells them to do Which is kill the infidel (you and me) and in doing so they are promised entry to paradise (Heaven) along with 72 virgins for their eternal pleasure. So don’t be naive whether asking them to drive trucks packed with bombs , wear explosive vests or get into small boats they’ll do it!… Read more »

Iran is following a hyper nationalist agenda, not a fanatical religious one. We should not confuse the fact it’s government is a theocracy with extreme religious fancaticim.

Iran is a religiously conservative, nationalistic totalitarian state and we need to mange them in that way… they are not isis with all that entails, isis needs to be put down, Iran needs to managed watched and negotiated with as we would any other generally unfriendly nation that does not share our value system

Darren Sharrocks

the Iranians do not have the 72 virgins that is Sunni Islam. Stop thinking they are idiots they are not. Not many will want to kill themselves even for god.

The artist formerly known as Los Pollos Chicken

Islam is a “complex” ideology the Shia and Sunni (minor) variations and true Iran is Shia . However that being said firstly at no time did I infer they were idiots that’s your words ,second – not many will want to kill themselves? Where have you been living ? There is an incredible and vast documented history out in the public domain of Muslim suicide attackers all over the world. The Koran declares Muslims who fight and die in battle are promised forgiveness and a sexual luxurious life in paradise (Surat At-Taubah-9:111) (Surat At-Tur-52:17-20,22) (Surat Al-waqiah 56:31-37) (Surat An-Naba- 78:32-34… Read more »


Happens all the time in war, we even have our own examples…generally it’s the well trained who are willing to take the highest casualty rates to complete the job. just look at bomber command, highly trained, highly motivated group that took 44% casualty rates to complete a mission that was not even filled with glory at the time.

The first day of the Somme tells you just how far you can push a fighting force…I’m betting those Iranian sailors have just as much willingness to fight for their country as our armed forces always have had.

David E Flandry

I believe the idea is for a swarm of drones to attack, not a swarm of manned vessels or aircraft, because otherwise you would be right: suicide.


And how is Iran going to seize this tanker from Gib with a couple of speed boats? lol


I think their idea is to snatch one of British merchant vessels that ply their trade through the straits of Hormuz, just a couple dozen miles from the Iranian coast 🙁


Yes that is worrying if only we had couple of those yank patrol boats that are armed to the teeth.

Darren Sharrocks

Yeah this is why it’s not acceptable to take “capability holidays”, have ships, aircraft and vehicles “fitted for but not with” vital defensive and offensive armament and run down the size of our Armed Forces to the point where we can’t easily ramp up our numbers in a particular theatre. It also shows how you can’t rely on our European allies, especially not the Spaniards, who are mischief making again because the seizure happened in Gib, and are crowing that we were acting on US intel and it’s all about US sanctions on Iran about their nuclear programme rather than… Read more »


A good post marquis


Cheers Dave, much appreciated!

Meirion X

You are right, the UK RN needs to procure 4/5 extra Type 26 hulls as AAW frigates.
I also think it will make sense to fit out the Arrowhead Type 31 frigates, with Mk 41, in its role of providing maritime security, including covering sensitive regions such as
the Gulf and Bab El-Mandeb Strait, where vessels have been attacked.
Earlier this year a US destroyer was fire on, sailing though the Bab El-Mandeb Strait. The US warship returned fire with cruise missile from Mk. 41 cells.


Will probably be harder for the Iranians to find a UK flagged tanker than to seize it.. Surely can’t be that many of them?


I think BP have a handful in the Gulf of Mexico.


Oh dear. oh deary me. Another Armchair site.


More kitchen table.


Basement Toilet.

Nigel Collins

Interesting to see the similarities between the Italian Andre Doria Class Destroyers and our Type 45’s. I wonder what the cost difference between the two is?