The UK will send two of its warships to protect British-flagged commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz following an increase in tensions after the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
Ben Wallace MP, the UK’s Defence Secretary, instructed the HMS Montrose and HMS Defender “to return to accompanying duties of Red Ensign Shipping in the Strait of Hormuz”.
Red Ensign Shipping is a group of British shipping registers, which in turn are operated by the UK, Crown dependencies and UK Overseas Territories, such as Anguilla, Bermuda and the Falkland Islands.
He went onto say that the government will take “all necessary steps to protect” British ships and citizens in the region.
Soleimani was killed in a US drone attack on 3rd January outside Baghdad Airport and the West is now bracing itself for retaliation of some kind from Tehran.
In July 2019 Iran seized the Stena Impero, a British-flagged tanker, in retaliation for Britain stopping an Iranian tanker that was allegedly taking oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, a story Port Technology International.
The HMS Montrose is based permanently in the Gulf region and operates permanently out of the Royal Navy’s facility in Bahrain.
What is the Strait of Hormuz?
The Strait of Hormuz is one of the biggest avenues of oil transportation in the world and sees approximately 21 million barrels of oil pass through it every day – 21% of global consumption.
It is a 21-mile wide channel between Iran and the Gulf states of the United Arab Emirates and Oman that links the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.
All vessels that transport goods from Iran or the Persian Gulf must travel through the Strait of Hormuz, which makes it a vital hub of global trade.