Three boats belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards tried to seize Isle of Man-flagged tanker British Heritage (IMO 9682980) on July 10th, the UK Ministry of Defence has revealed. The tanker was transiting the Strait of Hormuz at the time. The move was seen as a retaliation for UK marines taking Iranian tanker Grace 1 (IMO 9116412) in Gibraltar earlier this month.
The Iranian boats were driven off by Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose, which had been shadowing British Heritage. Montrose was forced to move between the three boats and the tanker, a spokesman said for the MoD said, describing the Iranians’ actions as “contrary to international law”.
Iran had threatened to retaliate for the seizure of one of its own tankers, but denied any attempted seizure of the British Heritage.
The BBC said that the tanker was near the island of Abu Musa when it was approached by the Iranian boats. Although Abu Musa is in disputed territorial waters, HMS Montrose remained in international waters throughout, the MoD said.
A UK government spokesman said that “we are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.” Iran’s Fars news agency said in a tweet that the IRGC denied claims by American sources that it tried to seize British Heritage.
“There has been no confrontation in the last 24 hours with any foreign vessels, including British ones,” the IRGC said.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the UK had made the claims “for creating tension” and that they had “no value”.
On Wednesday Iranian President Hassan Rouhani mocked the UK, calling it “scared” and “hopeless” for using Royal Navy warships to shadow another British tanker in the Gulf. HMS Montrose had shadowed British tanker the Pacific Voyager for some of the way through the Strait of Hormuz, but that journey had passed without incident. “You, Britain, are the initiator of insecurity and you will realise the consequences later,” Mr Rouhani said.
2017-built, Isle of Man-flagged, 85,445 gt British Heritage is owned by Hai Kuo Shipping 1502 Ltd care of manager BP Shipping of Sunbury, UK. It is entered with Britannia on behalf of Hai Kuo Shipping 1502 Ltd.
1997-built, 156,880 gt Grace 1 is owned by Grace Tankers Ltd care of manager Iships Management Pte Ltd of Singapore.