Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces reportedly ordered a British oil tanker to alter its route in the Strait of Hormuz and force it near Iranian-controlled waters. But the HMS Montrose, a UK Royal Navy frigate, was escorting the oil tanker and pointed its weapons on the IRGC vessels.
The HMS Montrose verbally warned the Iranian forces, who then backed off, CNN reported. US aircraft reportedly observed and recorded the incident.
The incident follows increased tensions between Iran and the UK. On Wednesday, Iran threatened to seize UK tankers, which have recently been escorted by the HMS Montrose and a minehunter traveling through the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran’s threats came after British Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker suspected of violating the European Union’s sanctions by shipping around two million barrels of crude oil to Syria.
“You [Britain] are the initiator of insecurity and you will realise the consequences later,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said to a state-sponsored news agency on Wednesday.
“Now you are so hopeless that, when one of your tankers wants to move in the region, you have to bring your frigates [to escort] because you are scared,” Rouhani added. “Then why do you commit such acts [seizure]? You should instead allow navigation to be safe.”
The US Defense Department said it “was aware” of the reports and referred the matter to the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“We are aware of the reports of [the IRGC’s] harassment and attempts to interfere with the passage of the UK-flagged merchant vessel British Heritage today near the Strait of Hormuz,” Navy Capt. Bill Urban said to INSIDER.
“Threats to international freedom of navigation require an international solution,” Urban added. “The world economy depends on the free flow of commerce, and it is incumbent on all nations to protect and preserve this lynchpin of global prosperity.”