Protecting freedom of navigation: Royal Navy to escort UK-flagged ships in Strait of Hormuz
Great Britain’s Ministry of Defense announced that British Royal Navy will protect UK-flagged ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, as tensions soar in the Persian Gulf over tanker detentions.
Confirming the decision, the ministry said that British ships should give “sufficient notice” to the Royal Navy so that they can be given safe passage through the Strait.
“Freedom of navigation is crucial for the global trading system and world economy, and we will do all we can to defend it,” a government spokesman said.
One such mission has already been carried out, according to Sky News, which cited shipping industry sources. The outlet reported that HMS ‘Montrose’ was involved in a mission that lasted from Wednesday evening into Thursday.
The announcement marks a U-turn in British policy, just one day after Boris Johnson began his duties as prime minister. London had previously claimed that it lacked the military resources to carry out such missions and urged British-flagged vessels to avoid sailing through the strait.
The move comes as the UK urges its European partners to create a joint armada tasked with guarding vessels traveling through the Middle Eastern waterway.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recently seized a British-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz, claiming it had violated maritime law. The incident followed Britain’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar several weeks ago. The UK said it had been transporting oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.
Iran’s president has argued that Tehran works tirelessly to ensure security in the Persian Gulf, while stressing that it had legal grounds for seizing the UK tanker.
“The Strait of Hormuz has a very important location, it’s not to be taken as a joke and it’s [no place] for [any] country to ignore international regulations,” Hassan Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.