UK orders 'heightened security' for all British-flagged vessels in the Strait of Hormuz as Iran threatens shipping

A commercial shipping vessel that was targeted in a suspected Iranian attack in June

  • The UK Department of Transport has ordered all British-flagged vessels operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz to switch to a state of "heightened security," Sky News reported Thursday.
  • The alert comes just one day after three Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats attempted to seize the BP oil tanker British Heritage near the Strait of Hormuz.
  • The IRGC forces backed down when the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose positioned itself between the Iranian ships and the tanker, turning its guns on the Iranian forces and ordering them to turn away.
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The British Department for Transport has ordered all British-flagged vessels operating in the Strait of Hormuz to switch to a state of "heightened security" as Iran threatens commercial shipping in the key shipping lane, Sky News reports, citing British maritime industry sources.

The department has reportedly sent out a warning urging all British ships in the region to keep a wary eye out for Iranian speedboats and patrol boats "being aggressive towards them."

The British government has raised the threat level to the highest possible level for merchant ships operating near Iranian waters, The Guardian reports. This was confirmed by The Times.

The Department of Transport told Sky News that "the Department for Transport, as a competent authority, regularly provides security advice" to UK shipping "on how they should operate in areas of high risk."

Three IRGC gunboats attempted to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday, a UK government spokesman told INSIDER's David Choi, confirming an earlier report by CNN. The Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose escorting the tanker intervened, turning its guns on the Iranian vessels and warning them to back away.

The Montrose positioned itself between the British commercial vessel, the BP tanker "British Heritage," sending out a helicopter to circle the Iranian boats, which ultimately withdrew.

Iran denies that its forces took any action against the British tanker.

Read more: Iranian gunboats trying to seize a British oil tanker were scared away by the Royal Navy

"We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to deescalate the situation in the region," the British government said in a statement.

Read more: The British oil tanker that Iran confronted with 3 gunboats was a BP ship that worried it was about to be targeted

The targeting of the British oil tanker follows the seizure of an Iranian cargo ship allegedly operating in violation of sanctions in the Strait of Gibraltar. An IRGC commander warned Thursday that the US and the UK "will heavily regret their deeds."

Prior to Wednesday's incident, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Britain that it would face "consequences" for its actions.

Rising tensions between the UK and Iran come amid rising tensions between Iran and the US, which has been putting increased pressure on Tehran in the wake of a string of attacks on six tankers, attacks Washington blamed on Iran. Iranian forces also shot down a US drone.

Read more: Iran just shot down one of the US military's most advanced drones - it costs more than an F-35 stealth fighter

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