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Iranian forces have been harassing this British warship almost daily in the Persian Gulf

Ryan Pickrell , Business Insider US
 Sep 04, 2019, 12:35 PM
HMS Montrose
Joel Rouse/UK MOD
  • The UK Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose has had almost daily confrontations with Iranian forces in the past two months, with 115 unpleasant interactions in the Persian Gulf since the start of July, The Times reports, citing the ship's commander.
  • Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has taunted the warship, which failed to prevent the seizure of a tanker that remains in Iranian custody.
  • The Iranians have also reportedly sent drones and fast attack craft within 200 meters of the warship, as well as targeted the frigate with missiles, according to the ship's commander.
  • The HMS Montrose is one of several ships participating in a US-led multinational security operation in the Gulf aimed protecting oil tankers and shipping from Iran.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider SA homepage.

A British warship that defended an oil tanker from Iranian forces but failed to save another has had 115 confrontations with Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Crops in the Persian Gulf since July.

Commander Will King, who commands the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose currently tasked with defending British interests and escorting ships in the Gulf, told The Times that his ship has been "heavily" tested by the Iranians, which have demonstrated a "continuous intent to disrupt or interfere with UK interests in the area."

The HMS Montrose and its crew made international headlines in mid-July when the Duke-class frigate positioned itself between approaching IRGC vessels and the BP oil tanker "British Heritage" the Iranian boats are suspected of trying to seize. The frigate trained its deck guns on the Iranian gunboats while issuing verbal warnings.

The British warship is armed with two 30 mm guns that are designed for repelling small fast-moving watercraft. The IRGC vessels departed without incident.

A week later, the UK-flagged Stena Impero, which was sailing unescorted, was seized by the IRGC. The HMS Montrose tried to come to the ship's aid, but it arrived too late.

The ship is tasked with escorting British-flagged ships through the contested strait to deter Iran forces, which haven't seized a UK-flagged ship since July 19 when the Stena Impero was taken.

The Iranians have repeatedly mocked the Type 23 frigate for failing to save the Stena Impero, which remains in Iranian custody, The Times reported. In addition to taunts, the Iranians have also routinely sent out gunboats and unmanned air assets to "intimidate" the British warship by approaching to within 200 meters. A reporter for The Times personally witnessed some of these activities reporting aboard the HMS Montrose.

Iranian forces have even targeted the ship with coastal defenses and cruise missiles, according to the frigate's captain.

Toward the end of July, the US launched a multinational maritime security effort known as Operational Sentinel. This operation is intended to "increase surveillance of and security in key waterways in the Middle East," US Central Command revealed at the time.

The move followed a string of attacks on commercial shipping vessels, the downing of a US drone, and the seizure of a tanker flying the British Union Jack - all actions attributed to Iran.

The Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose and the destroyer HMS Duncan were the first British warships to join this mission. The frigate HMS Kent was deployed to the Gulf in mid-August, and recently, the Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender was sent to replace the Duncan.

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