Britain will send a second warship to the Gulf, officials said Friday (July 12th), temporarily deploying two vessels near Tehran's waters as tensions surge after armed Iranian boats threatened a British oil tanker, AFP reported.
Government officials said the move was part of a pre-planned rotation and was meant to ensure a continued British naval presence in one of the most important but volatile oil shipping routes in the world.
The decision was announced days after the British government raised the alert level in the waters around Iran to its highest level.
A government spokesman said the HMS Duncan was "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".
The HMS Montrose was forced to warn off three fast Iranian gunboats on Wednesday that UK officials said were trying to "impede" the progress of a British supertanker through the Strait of Hormuz.
A source with knowledge of the matter said Duncan's deployment was being moved forward by a number of days and that the two ships will be stationed in the Gulf together during a temporary transition period.
A source said the UK government decided at the start of the week to raise the alert level for ships traveling through Iranian waters to three on a three-point scale.
The decision means Britain views the security threat in Iranian waters for commercial ships as "critical".
Sky News TV reported that HMS Duncan will not be part of the international military escort team for vessels in the Gulf being proposed by the US.