Iranian naval craft unsuccessfully attempted to seize a British flagged oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, it has emerged.

The tanker ‘British Heritage’ was reportedly 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.

It is understood that the Iranians ordered the tanker to change course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters.

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.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said that “contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz.”

Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose.

“HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away. We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.”

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

Earlier in the month, 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.

“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.”

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

Last month we reported that the Government had “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.

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Gandalf
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Gandalf

I would like to add that the Iranian deny this. Unfortunately for Iran, an american aircraft was in the air filming the failed attempt to seize the tanker. Iran caught in a lie.

John F. MacMichael
Guest
John F. MacMichael

“Iran caught in a lie.” Again.

Steve
Guest
Steve

I’m pretty sure the event happened, but has the US video actually been released?

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

It’s time we considered completing two ships every 2/3 years.
That’s twelve T26 hulls in total.

I believe this hull could form the new platform for additional Type 45’s? while up arming the batch 2 rivers to something halfway decent?

“Sea Venom/ANL missile service entry faces year-long delay.”
https://www.janes.com/article/85256/sea-venom-anl-missile-service-entry-faces-year-long-delay

Rob
Guest
Rob

Up arming the R2s would only encourage the powers that be to deploy them to contested waters like the Gulf. With no hangar for a helo they would be very vulnerable, even with a bigger main gun and some more GPMGs.

The RN Wildcats could really do with Sea Venom and Martlet in situations like this.

geoff
Guest
geoff

Up arming both batches of OPV even given for their deficiencies is the only quick and relatively inexpensive route to getting more numbers in to the area without stretching the RN’s 19 escorts to Mission impossible. They could act in conjunction with a Type 23 or 45 as additional eyes and ears plus a secondary combat capability

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Batch 2 OPV.

Without the crane being fitted, additional armaments could be added making these the ideal choice for this type of work?

Main Gun: Bofors 40 Mk4 Naval Gun

M134 Minigun 7.62×51mm machine gun x2: Perfect for protection against small surface threats such as armed speed boats.

2x 25mm Cannons

Phalanx mount to the rear.

https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/improving-the-capability-of-a-future-opv-squadron-part-2/

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

The last place i’d Want to be would be on an OPV batch2 in a potential war zone.

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

An OPV by itself would be vulnerable, but an upgunned B2 River that sticks to a T23/T45, could be part of a double act, that prevents hostile boats swarming round a British Tanker. Any expensive, major, lengthy work on a B2 River, should be avoided. Just a bolt on, non deck piercing 40mm gun(at least 3 makes to choose from) to replace the 30mm. That gives you an extra km of reach. Then dig the 20mm GAM-B01 out of whatever shed they are in & put one, each side, on the wing behind the bridge, where the export customer has… Read more »

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

What about also fitting out a River B2 with 2 ExLS(CAMM) containers?

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P
Rob
Guest
Rob

Yes.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

I would say, more Type 31s or T23(GP)s are better suited for this type of arena with shallow and confined waters.
But yes, T26 hulls adapted for AAW role, to provide extra support for CBG escort. Plus, of course is Cooperative Engagement Capability is essential.
Remember 2 out 6 T45s now in refit or out of service.

Cam
Guest
Cam

The old castle class OPVs that we gave to Bangladesh are 500 tones less and have 1 × AK-176 main gun
4 × C-704 AShM
2 × Oerlikon 20 mm auto cannons
Aviation facilities:
Flight deck

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Oh for some modern version of the old Brave Borderer class to deal with situations like this.

Sid Morley
Guest
Sid Morley

I think it’s time to send another Frigate and some more Royal Marines to HMS Juffair we already have AMW capability in the Gulf, should the Iran’s attempt to mine the sea lanes. Let’s not forget that the UK imports 33% of LNG from Qatar which has to pass through the straights.

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

No such thing as HMS Jufair. It is UKNSF
No need to put them in BHR. There are nearer basising options to the straights for any RM units..

Cam
Guest
Cam

Maybe our littoral ships need to be built sooner, one would be perfect to base near the straights, full of marines fast boats and choppers, I’m not sure about drones basing of it though.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Shows the importance of escorts!

More needed HMG.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

Some of the T23(ASW)s could be adapted for the GP role, as the new T26s come in commission.
What I mean is the T23(ASW)s could serve 2/3 years as general propose frigates until replaced by more T31s. The RN could have 10 GP frigates by early 30s. But the T26 build rate needs to be accelerated for this to happen.

This would allow a bach 2 T31 procurement from 2030 which could replace what is left of the T23s.
If only the T26 build rate speeded up!
Second T26 needs to start build now!

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

Ideally increase the funding for the T31 project and order an additional three hulls to truly replace the T23’s like for like. Similarly, the build rate of the Type 26 project needs accelerating – it’s only constrained by a lack of funding.

To be fair, I’d like to see two batches of 6 T31, which would also see the last 4 Type 22’s replaced – though I might be playing fantasy fleets with this one!

Cam
Guest
Cam

Exactly what I’ve said all along 16 frigates is needed minimum. Shame we lost 3 23s. I’m not even going to mention the type 22s oh I just did!

the_marquis
Guest
the_marquis

I agree – more T26s would be nice alongside the T31 programme, but sadly unlikely, so if we can at least speed up T26 build so they come into service before the T23s are not completely knackered out, so much the better! And more T31s ordered too at a decent build rate. However, while I sincerely hope there is no further escalation in tensions in the Gulf, I get the feeling that when the dust hopefully settles, there will be a big sigh of relief in Whitehall, after which collective amnesia will set in and those in power will forget… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Agree Lusty.

AlbertStarburst
Guest
AlbertStarburst

At risk of fantasy fleet-itis, I’ve often thought for this exact scenario we need to have come up with – beforehand – WWII-style/Vosper Motor Gun Boats that are armed to the teeth. For cross ocean capability also a “mother ship,” armed to the teeth for self protection and carrying say 4 to 6 MGBs for rapid deployment. When loaded onto Mother Ship all MGB weapons systems integrate with “Mother” to form a formidable beast as well. Need not cost a fortune. Just use only the appropriate level of technology for the job. Lots of big squirty 20mm cannon, pairs of… Read more »

Helions
Guest
Helions
Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

Wouldn’t have thought Americans would make mistake of reporting that a tanker turning off it’s AIS would make it invisible to radar.

Helions
Guest
Helions

Not undetectable by radar, It’s an unidentified contact with its transponders off. The ship cannot be hidden from search radars within their range, only its identity.

Cheers!

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

T23 is as good a can be for this role having 4.5, 30mm, etc and Ceptor – if it’s optimised for asw interception, which we could soon find out, I suppose (some reports indicate RN have adopted this ability, some not). Having your helo gapped for an asw missile could prove ’embarrassing’, of course, since previous iterations of this combination have proven spectacularly successful. We do love to play roulette with our offensive abilities, even as risks increase on all fronts, which I’m inclining to put down to our innate sense of fair play.

Ian
Guest
Ian

Montrose, as a single asset, wouldn’t be able to fend off a large swarm attack, neither would any other navy.
Surely it’s time for a Hedgehog, guided, short range weapons system, and a saturation decoy system for such scenarios?

David
Guest
David

Wasn’t they testing Brimstone for sea swarm attack? The video showed a mass swarm of small boats dealt with easily by Brimstone.

Ian
Guest
Ian

Yes, and the US military asked Congress to fund procurement, but not sure how that went.
Adapted modular launch systems for our OPV’s could be the answer, ditto for Boxer and other mobile platforms with their own respective plug-in targeting systems.
The problem, as always, comes down to funding and commitment to our armed forces.

Cam
Guest
Cam

But we won’t see a swarm attack, Iran hasn’t the balls to attack a fully armed NATO warship, if Iran is atacked first then ok maybe, but we would have far more assets in the area if we were planing to attack Iran first.

Ian
Guest
Ian

That’s right, they would only get one opportunity with such a capital asset.
Cruise missiles would be neutralising their maritime threat within hours!

James Fennell
Guest
James Fennell

Mark my words the time is coming soon when we will need 30 escorts and 12 subs again. One way of achieving this quickly is to keep 8 T23s going while we speed up T26 and T31 builds, and then build 12 T31s and 4 more T26s (maybe a batch 2 with better air defence capability – Sea Cepter ER anyone?). Relying on R2s to fill gaps is not going to cut it very soon, even with relatively asymmetric threats like the IRG speedboats they will be hard pressed to deliver a response like Montrose. We will also need a… Read more »

billythefish
Guest
billythefish

And we continue to back Iran against the US as official FCO policy…amazing.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

They are two different (although linked) things. The US was wrong to pull out of the international agreement and that has ended up exasperating the situation. We are not backing Iran in the situation, we are backing ourselves and our other international partners. The UK and most of the rest of the world thinks that the agreement was working. Trump woke up one morning after a bad curry and went on a tweet rampage and has caused a crisis…

The tanker dispute is to do with Syria and Irans breaking of EU sanctions.

Julian1
Guest
Julian1

Spot on response…..otherwise Trump sets UK foreign policy by twitter…..which may start happening if his love child Boris becomes PM anyway

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Well said Sir while the IAEA says they were adhering to the agreement I see no reason to take sides in this matter especially when stuck in the middle between two madmen it’s wise to be cautious. Especially after being accused of launching an air war against the US in the WofI makes his decision making less than reliable as a guide.

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

The last thing Boris needs on entering No10 is a military crisis, or could it be a blessing?

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

I am not sure he has the brains to deal with a Military crisis… He would have to actually answer questions for one thing… Lets not forget that this is the guy who threw Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe under the bus with his dumb mouth.

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

You may be correct, but he’s far more astute than many believe and dumb he ain’t.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Yeah Boris acts that way but he wouldn’t be where he is today without serious brains. He’s no dumbass

Gandalf
Guest
Gandalf

He wouldn’t be the first simpleton who was born with a silver spoon in a place of power
Apart from his school clown act, i am not in awe by his brilliance

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

It wouldn’t be too late to start demonstrating this to those outside his circle, now he’s risen to the top.

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

There are many types and levels of intelligence. I suspect Starky like many a professor in academia is far brighter than Boris but seriously would you let him run your country or even a Parish Council after listening to some of his wackier thoughts? You only had to watch that documentary on the F&C Office to get the taste of just how bumbling, incompetent and totally out of touch with reality he is and how he was fundamentally carried by the surprisingly young civil servants who kept him afloat for whom I now have a far greater respect than I… Read more »

Julian1
Guest
Julian1

He may be academic. But he’s a total cock. He’s also a loose canon and a security risk. Him and Trump, talk about Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

Cam
Guest
Cam

I hope Hunt gets in no 10, he will make our millitary great again.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Not that I’m a fan of his political outlook, but given the choice I would much rather Hunt in the driving seat as I at least think the mans competent. Having actual seen him in action and being as I work for the NHS, I may have not agreed with all he did but he had a cogent strategy which he explained and stuck to be it popular or not.

I think there is a real chance Boris could mess up and cost this country either power, prestige, money or lives (or all of them).

Mike O
Guest
Mike O

Well done to the crew of HMS Montrose and all involved. Hopefully this is not the first of many actions like this.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Totally agree and the people moaning about an expensive RN warship based in the region need to wake up. Lucky Montrose was sent let’s send one more frigate.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Are the 30mm guns of the T23 an adequate countermeasure against this type of threat – i.e. a group of fast-moving attack boats?

Cam
Guest
Cam

Im sure they were designed for that task and put onto all of our frigates and destroyers for that reason then there’s mini guns if fast attack craft get closer and GPMGs.

Ian
Guest
Ian

Not if they have short range Zafar missiles strapped to each craft.
They would only need a swarm of 60-80 craft to overwhelm a T23s defences.
When you consider that Iran ‘claims’ to have a thousand+…

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Well at least as things stand these guys are not willing to act as suicide bombers and when they know that certain actions would mean be involved in a suicide mission as in this case they won’t push it home. I am more concerned that an error of judgement at vital moments will lead to a far bigger conflict. With 30 odd British merchantmen in the area at any given time (which shocked me) I can’t see that one frigate can defend them all and that worries me in the long run. What are the oil producers doing to aid… Read more »

Herodotus
Guest

Should the temperature rise any further, it might be prudent to start a convoy system with assets from the Gulf States taking part. There are numerous OPVs in the region, many of them quite heavily armed

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

30mm cannon is a chain gun similar to that fitted to the apache. The 2 X months are remote controlled and targeted via remote controlled tv/thim laser range finder sights.
You also have 4.5 gun, mini guns (3000round a min) gpmgs and 50 cals. The Ships force also have rifles, the RM detachment also have their toys to bring to the party.
The helo has a 50 cal door gun and can carry a marine sniper. Heck if you wanted the helo could drop a depth charge in front of boats.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

You forgot just running them over, swamping them or simply watching them smash themselves to bits trying make progress into a following sea against a fast ship. #smashyourownfacein

Cam
Guest
Cam

You go HMS Montrose 🇬🇧🇬🇧👍👍👍

Julian1
Guest
Julian1

As a short term measure, why couldn’t additional wildcats or even Apache be deployed for QRA from land? The straits are narrow, surely there could be reasonable time on station? The RFA could refuel at sea

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

Unfortunately Wildcats are a bit toothless at the moment.

Julian1
Guest
Julian1

Door gun?

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

True, Julian, that represents the bit of a tooth that’s left; I suppose the crew could also have a couple of pistols to add to the optimism. The Wildcat’s potential what with Venom and Martlet is superb, particularly Martlet in these circumstances, but that’s not going to help at the moment. Something needs to be fast-tracked – fast. Agree that other assets in the region are likely to be key, and particularly like the concept of a couple of Apache hoving into view: they have a unique abilty to loosen the bowels if within range.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

0.50 cal I think. Make mincemeat out of most of the Iranian fast attack craft but some of those carry the same calibre machine gun and AA missiles ..
Roll on Sea Martlet.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Got to love the difference between the US and UK reporting/statement So:

UK: HMS Montrose came between them and issued warnings which were followed

US: The British frigates pointed its guns at the Iranian boats

No way the US was going to let us get away with tact and diplomacy when they could stick it to Iran.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I do think this shows that if we are going to prioritise a new ASUW missile for the surface fleet it needs to light, clever, numerous and autonomous. Harpoon and even newer HW ASMs are just so much deck weight in most of the areas the RN needs to operate in ( shipping lanes).

Time to give our escorts an ASM that the can actually use against real life credible threats.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

The RN have gone for man in the loop technology with Sea Venom, though it does I believe have a terminal homing capability. The philosophy with Sea Martlet is similar, laser guided after the fashion of its progenitor Starstreak.
They don’t seem to favour autonomous guidance for missiles at least until the final phase of the trajectory. Sea Ceptor is another missile with the same philosophy..

Sjb1968
Guest
Sjb1968

This episode just demonstrates how vulnerable the UK still is as a small island nation with a vast amount of sea borne trade to interference in that essential freedom of the seas that goes on beyond the horizon. There are other threats of course and we have allies but weakening the Royal Navy has always been and always will be bad for this country.

Gandalf
Guest
Gandalf

??? I won’t pretend the UK is ruler of the seas, but the RN is hardly weak and bad. It’s still one of the most potent and modern navies in the world! I don’t agree with Trump pulling out of Iran deal, but let’s not pretend the Iranians are angels or they have superior navy or air force, that is pure fallacy

Sjb1968
Guest
Sjb1968

The Royal Navy has been fundamentally weakened and that we would struggle to mount a long term Armilla patrol of 2-3 escorts is obvious. We currently have T45s earmarked for significant propulsion upgrades, limited surface warfare capabilities and too few submarines. The deterrent effect of a larger RN has been deliberately allowed to wither away and the result is less friendly nations feel emboldened to make threats that just a few years ago would have seemed ridiculous. I didn’t say the Iranians were superior in any way but they certainly would fancy their chances and could we protect the 30… Read more »

Gandalf
Guest
Gandalf

I completely agree that all parties need to de-escalate the situation, it is in no one’s interest to have the same situation in Iran that we face in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lybia. Trump “the raging idiot”, MBS “the bone saw butcher” and Netenyahu “the boy who cried wolf” need to pipe it down! Also after the fall of the Berlin wall, Nato scaled down the military spending. With recent events in Crimea, this policy is no longer viable and now most of Nato is playing catch up. This had already been agreed and started during the Obama presidency, eventhough… Read more »

Drake
Guest
Drake

Not sure if this has anything to do with the threat being raised to its highest level but a Type 23 and RFA Argus have just sailed past Ventnor Isle of Wight heading out to sea, I couldn’t see the number on the Type 23 though as she was too far out by the time I spotted them.

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

Argus and HMS Kent have been participating in exercise Baltic Protector along with other UK assets (8 ships & 7 fast patrol craft in total) and so it’s likely they’re returning from that/continuing with exercises off the South coast.

However, assets can of course be redeployed if deemed necessary.

Drake
Guest
Drake

I thought that might be the case although normally they sail straight past and not out to sea but you are probably correct

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if HMG decides to send further assets to the region or not. Both vessels would arguably be useful assets.

Jasper
Guest
Jasper

Total respect to RN crews dealing with this; it’s trigger point however you look at it, dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t time. A few thoughts; Multi national surveillance coverage (US/UK + others-probably happening or nacsent), convoy, 100% 24/7 surveillance on convoy, CAP including F35 (any nation should work), Brimstone loaded Typhoons (we know the works!) and let’s see what happens. Warships need protecting but air assets (deployed when needed) in this environment are a massive boost

A. Smith
Guest
A. Smith

A perfect role for the Type 31, but where are they?

Ron
Guest
Ron

Just been reading that J.Hunt has admited that due to defence cuts the Royal Navy no longer has the ships to defend British vessels.
Not sure what to say about that except people who have had an interest in the defence of the Uk has been saying that for years. Also that MPs and the Houses of Parliament have failed the British people in one of their primary tasks, to defend and protect the interests of the country and its people.

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

I am glad a prospective PM has finally admitted that the Navy is too small, hopefully this will cross to the other services as well! However, as ever I’m seriously disappointed by our top brass not having the balls to admit the cuts in 2010 went too far and making it known. Instead they continue to tow the party line every time they get questioned by the select committee. (Read up on the A400M question and the reply, especially as the serviceability and availability questions were loaded). All three services need have their manning levels raised, both the navy and… Read more »

Herodotus
Guest

Yeah, sort of a ‘no shit Sherlock’ moment!

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Does this incident point to one or other of the T31 designs being better suited to this type of ‘constabulary’ work?

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

Good to see my least fav admiral has joined the media scrum. Lord West saying there are not enough surface units.

It was on his watch that he sacrificed the surface Fleet on the altar of Carrier Strike. I was in a few senior officer meets the WO & Cpo mess visits. He did not impress many of us then and he hasn’t improved since.

Ron
Guest
Ron

Folks, this might make some interesting reading. Its a defence Q&A yesterday
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2019-07-11a.205.1&s=Type+31+General+Purpose+Frigate#g210.0

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Cheers.

I know those figures well….35 to 32 to 31 to 25 to 23 to 19, which in reality is 17.

So, so sad.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Hi all,

Could somebody explain to me how Iran broke EU sanctions against Syria? I assumed these sanctions only related to EU countries. Was Iran’s error that they sailed through Gibraltan waters. If they had gone via Suez there would not be an issue.

I’m not trying to defend Iran, just do not understand how these sanctions work.

Bob

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

News outlets are now reporting that HMS Duncan is also being sent to the Gulf. Was apparently scheduled to go anyway, but it makes sense as she was the closest surface asset.

Helions
Guest
Helions
Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Gosh Helions that’s a strange website with a very strange group of commentators.

Helions
Guest
Helions

An economic “Doom Porn” site is how I believe it’s described. Endlessly entertaining commentary. Excellent market news though…

Cheers!

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I’ve not come across doom porn before, but I may just have to indulge a bit #readingmadeupsudofactscusitsfunnyasfuck

Helions
Guest
Helions

😀 Great tag! I’m stealing the idea!

Cheers!

Steve
Guest
Steve

It’s kinda strange when you think about it, that this was a british flagged ship. Most commercial ships these days are flagged in tax havens for the pretty sights and definitely not tax efficiency / lower regulation.

I wonder how many british flagged oil tankers there are left.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

A lot, our merchant navy is still respectable with around 30 million gross tonnes registered and flying a red ensign. 10th largest in the world.

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

So thats the swarm attack problem sorted out…

30mm mount with martlet fitted, fired and proven…all in 5 months…

https://navaltoday.com/2019/07/16/royal-navys-martlet-missile-debuts-on-type-23-frigate-hms-sutherland/