Three (some reports suggest five) Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boats on Wednesday tried and failed to take over a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, Sky News reported citing two US officials.
The Iranian boats approached the tanker, British Heritage, owned by BP, as it was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz from the Persian Gulf. The IRGC fighters ordered the tanker to turn into Iranian territorial waters. The incident was reportedly recorded on video by a US aircraft.
But a British Royal Navy frigate, HMS Montrose, which was escorting the tanker from the rear, trained its deck guns on the Iranians and warned them to move along or else, which they obeyed.
One US official told Sky News: “The Royal Navy HMS Montrose, which was also there, pointed its guns at the boats and warned them over radio, at which point they dispersed.”
The Montrose has 30mm deck guns designed to shoo away pirate boats. According to UK officials cited by CNN, the Montrose was on hand in the region on a “maritime security role.”
Another US official said: “It was harassment and an attempt to interfere with the passage.”
The UK Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that “contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz. HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away. We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.”
On Wednesday, Iran’s military chief of staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri said that a crushing response is awaiting those who threaten the security of Iran and its borders. He added that Iran will thwart any plot hatched by its enemies against its sustainable security.
Apparently, that amounts to three (or five) boats attacking an oil tanker.