The Royal Navy began accompanying British-flagged commercial vessels sailing through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz following reports of Iranian attempts to detain UK-flagged commercial vessels following the seizure of an Iranian-flagged tanker laden with oil off the coast of Gibraltar in early July.
Iranian naval forces have been trying to “test” the Royal Navy’s “resolve” in the Strait of Hormuz, with the HMS Montrose frigate deployed there facing some 85 “interactions” with Iranian forces in the 27 days that it has spent patrolling the area, HMS Montrose Commander William King has said.
“The Iranians seem to be keen to test our resolve, test our reactions most of the time,” King said, speaking to BBC Radio. “They’ll claim that perhaps our presence is illegitimate, even though we’re completely lawfully in international waters,” he added.
According to the commanding officer, there have been instances of Iran running “boats in at speed toward us, to test what warning levels we get to.”
At the same time, King admitted that despite these incidents, the general interaction between British and Iranian forces has been “professional” and “cordial.”
“There’s a healthy understanding, shall I saw a respect between mariners, which now seems to be established,“ he said.
The HMS Montrose will end its patrols in the Gulf later this week, and be replaced by the HMS Duncan, a heavily-armed air-defence destroyer fitted with complex sensor systems and anti-ship missiles, on Sunday.