Britain is sending another warship to the Persian Gulf in the wake of threats to commercial shipping from Iran.

The Type 45 frigate HMS Duncan is to sail to the region within the next week to join HMS Montrose, which was forced to intervene on Wednesday to see off Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats trying to impede a UK oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Duncan is currently in the eastern Mediterranean on a Nato exercise and was already due to relieve the Montrose when it comes off duty for maintenance and repairs.

But its deployment to the Gulf has been brought forward because of the heightened tension in the region and will ensure that the Royal Navymaintains continuous frigate presence. The two ships will operate alongside one another for a number of weeks.

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the development.

News of the deployment came as Downing Street confirmed that the UK is in discussions with the US over a possible boost to their military presence in the Gulf.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “We have had a permanent presence there for a long period of time, since the 1980s, and we have a number of military assets already in the region.

“The US has been discussing with a number of countries, including ourselves, how we might build on this. Those discussions are currently ongoing.

The Type 45 frigate HMS Duncan is to sail to the region within the next week to join HMS Montrose, which was forced to intervene on Wednesday to see off Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats trying to impede a UK oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Duncan is currently in the eastern Mediterranean on a Nato exercise and was already due to relieve the Montrose when it comes off duty for maintenance and repairs.

Source :

The UK tanker British Heritage was approached by three boats of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on Wednesday and ordered to stop in Iranian territorial waters.

But the HMS Montrose, which was escorting the ship, turned its guns toward the Iranian craft and ordered them away.

Iran is now demanding the release of its tanker, warning of “consequences” if it is not allowed to continue on its way.

Asked for the UK’s response to Tehran’s demand, the Number 10 spokeswoman said: “We are concerned about the threats that they are making to disrupt shipping in the area. We are urging them to de-escalate tensions in the region and we think that’s the best course of action for everyone.”

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Daily Telegraph the British Heritage incident was “deeply troubling” and highlighted the fact that “we have run down the navy too much”.

“Our current commitment is for 19 destroyers and frigates supported by excellent offshore patrol vessels,” said Mr Hunt. “If I become prime minister, I will review this commitment as part of a wider look at our defence capability.”

Source : independent.co.uk

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