UK navy to escort British shipping in Strait of Hormuz
London, UK - The UK is preparing to deploy the Royal Navy to escort British-flagged commercial shipping through the Strait of Hormuz following the rapid escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States.
The Ministry of Defence said on Saturday that the frigate
HMS Montrose and HMS Defender, a destroyer, ‘will resume accompaniments of UK-flagged commercial vessels’ in the strait.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “I have instructed preparations for HMS Montrose and HMS Defender to return to accompanying duties of Red Ensign shipping. The government will take all necessary steps to protect our ships and citizens at this time.”
The practice of escorting ships in the Strait of Hormuz was stood down in November,
after being used during the fallout from the seizure of the British-flagged Stena Impero
tanker by Iran in July.
Britain also urged Iran to ‘do the right thing’ and seize the op
portunity to come in from the cold by de-escalating tensions with the United States.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said a war was in no one’s interest as he described Iran’s assassinated top general Qasem Soleimani as a ‘regional menace’.
“The US will take their own operational judgment call but they’ve got the right of self defence,” Raab told Sky News television.
Raab said he spoke to Iraq’s President Barham Saleh on Saturday and Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Sunday.
“We want to see de-escalation, we’re going to do everything we can to protect the UK diplomatic missions and we’re going about that business,” he said.
In a statement on Twitter, Wallace said he spoke with his US counterpart Mark Esper on Friday.
Wallace said US forces had been ‘repeatedly attacked by Iranian-backed militia’ in Iraq during ‘the last few months’.
‘General Soleimani has been at the heart of the use of proxies to undermine neighbouring sovereign nations and target Iran’s enemies’, he said.
We’re going to do everything we can to protect the UK missions
This file photo shows an Iranian water tanker sailing off the coast of Qeshm Island in the Strait of Hormuz on February 14, 2001