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Saturday, 20 July 2019

Britain vows retaliation as Iran seizes one of its tankers in the Gulf, and releases another after boarding, in humiliating insult to the UK after the Royal Navy seized Iranian vessel

Iran Guards say they have confiscated a British tanker in Strait of Hormuz 
Iran has been warned it faces 'serious consequences' after the government held an emergency COBRA meeting following the seizure of two British oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured inet top) branded Tehran's actions as 'completely unacceptable' after heavily-armed gunships intercepted the Stena Impero (left) and the Medsar (inset bottom) after 4pm yesterday. The Medsar was released after several hours, although the owners of the Stena Impero have said they have had no response from the vessel or the 23 crew.

A Royal Navy warship raced to help a British oil tanker that was captured by Iran last night but arrived ten minutes too late, a defence source revealed today. 

HMS Montrose, which was patrolling the Persian Gulf, was forced to do a U-turn when it received orders to assist the UK-flagged Stena Impero, which had been seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Strait of Hormuz. 

The Stena Impero was surrounded by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces at 4pm and ordered to head north. The British registered vessel switched off its maritime tracker a short time later. A second British vessel, Medsar, abruptly changed course towards Iran around 4.45pm. Last night's action follows attacks on six oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and an earlier attempt to seize a British oil tanker which was thwarted by the Royal Navy
The Stena Impero was surrounded by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces at 4pm and ordered to head north. The British registered vessel switched off its maritime tracker a short time later. A second British vessel, Medsar, abruptly changed course towards Iran around 4.45pm. Last night's action follows attacks on six oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and an earlier attempt to seize a British oil tanker which was thwarted by the Royal Navy

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard uses a large number of high-speed small vessels to harass shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The regime launched these 'ultra-fast' boats in 2010
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard uses a large number of high-speed small vessels to harass shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The regime launched these 'ultra-fast' boats in 2010
The Stena Impero was still in Omani waters when the orders were sent, but by the time HMS Montrose arrived the vessel had been taken and redirected into Iranian territorial waters. It's claimed the Iranians were ready to 'engage' the Type 23 frigate.

It was a deliberate act of provocation because the ships were in international waters. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised a 'robust response' and said there would be 'serious consequences' if the issue was not resolved quickly.  

The action prompted a late night meeting of the COBRA emergency security committee chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May. 

Following the meeting, security officials have warned UK shipping to stay clear of the Strait of Hormuz 'for an interim period'. 

Iran claims it seized Stena Impero because was involved an accident with an Iranian fishing boat and ignored its distress call.

The vessel had 'collided with a fishing boat on its route and, according to law, after an accident it is necessary that the cause of the accident are investigated,' said Allah-Morad Afifipoor, a director-general of the Hormozgan province port and maritime authority. 

Fears were raised that Iranian authorities were trying to seize a UK ship in retaliation for the detention of an Iranian vessel last week. 


The Grace 1 tanker was detained off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4, with the Foreign Office claiming it had violated EU sanctions by carrying a cargo of crude oil destined for Syria.

In the early hours, the acting US Secretary of Defense Richard Spencer announced he is sending several hundred troops, as well as a glut of aircraft and air defense missiles, to Saudi Arabia in order to counter Iran’s threat.  The Royal Navy has sent destroyer HMS Duncan to join HMS Montrose in the Gulf.  

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who attended the emergency meeting held in the Cabinet Office Briefing Room,  branded the seizing of two British oil tankers by Iran as 'completely unacceptable'. 

The first vessel, the Stena Impero, was surrounded by heavily-armed Iranian vessels and a helicopter around 4pm yesterday and ordered to turn north.


The second vessel, the Mesdar, is Liberian flagged, but owned by British company Norbulk Shipping, was ordered by Iran to turn north around 45 minutes later. It was later released after being boarded and inspected by Iranian troops. 

According to Number 10:  'We remain deeply concerned about Iran's unacceptable actions which represent a clear challenge to international freedom of navigation. We have advised UK shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period.
'As the Foreign Secretary has said, our response will be considered and robust and there will be serious consequences if the situation is not resolved.
'We remain in close contact with our international partners and there will be further meetings over the weekend.'
A spokesman for the owner of the Stena Impero said the vessel was in 'full compliance with all navigation and international regulations', when it was seized.  
There are no reported injuries to the vessel's crew, who are Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino in nationality.
According to the company, the vessel, which was built in 2018 'is no longer under the control of the crew and remains uncontactable'.  

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