The U.K. Royal Navy has dispatched the guided-missile destroyer HMS Duncan to join the frigate HMS Montrose in the Persian Gulf amid heightened tensions in the region, days after the United Kingdom said Iranian boats tried to impede a British merchant tanker from entering the Strait of Hormuz.
HMS Duncan left Portsmouth Naval Base in March for a six-month overseas deployment, mostly focused in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Type 45 destroyer “is deploying to the region to ensure we maintain a continuous maritime security presence while HMS Montrose comes off task for pre-planned maintenance and crew change over,” a U.K. government spokesperson said on Friday, July 12.
Montrose, a Type 23 frigate, is stationed in Bahrain until 2022 to spare other British warships the trip to and from the United Kingdom and ensure a permanent presence in the region.
Duncan’s rotation has been moved forward by a number of days, AFP reported a U.K. government source as saying.
The two ships will temporarily patrol together in the Gulf.
The Montrose was trailing the merchant tanker British Heritage earlier this week when three boats believed by the U.K. government to be Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels, tried to stop the tanker as it was entering the Strait of Hormuz from the Gulf.
The British defense secretary Penny Mordaunt said Wednesday the government hoped Iran would “de-escalate the situation.” The incident came days after officials in Gibraltar seized an Iranian tanker possibly carrying oil to Syria. Iran has vowed to retaliate for the seizure and arrest of the tanker’s captain and chief officer.
Two additional officers, both Iranian nationals, were arrested on Friday, the Royal Gibraltar Police said.