Tensions are rising even higher between Iran and the United Kingdom after police in Gibraltar have arrested the captain and chief officer of a seized Iranian tanker suspected of carrying oil to be delivered to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. A spokesperson for the Royal Gibraltar Police said Thursday that the two men, both Indian nationals, have not yet been charged.
British Marines assisted Gibraltar authorities in their detention of the Iranian-owned VLCC supertanker, Grace 1.
Iran has vowed a “harsh response” to the incident, deemed an “illegal interception” and what it called “maritime robbery.”
The United Kingdom has begun to provide military escort for its tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz in response to an open threat by the Islamic Republic, which threatened the UK with “repercussions” and implied its own forces would seize a British vessel in retaliation for the seizure of the Grace 1.
One such confrontation has already taken place, with five Iranian boats attempting to seize a British-flagged oil tanker this week, ordering it to move into Iranian waters.
The British warship HMS Montrose was monitoring events about five nautical miles away and swiftly moved into position between the oil tanker and the Iranian boats, turning its guns towards the boats and blocking them from seizing the oil tanker. The warship then escorted the tanker safely through the Strait of Hormuz, according to a report on the Riviera maritime media website.