Iranians are taunting after they storm a British tanker and they are hunting for our sailors
"She's mine now," the Iranian officer said on the radio as he steamed back to Iran after catching the Stena Impero.
Commander Will King, 41, the captain of HMS Montrose, was only 500 meters away from Iranian waters and could see the dipped lights of the British tanker when he received the message in English on channel 16.
"As soon as she went north to the Iranian territorial waters, I could do nothing. Soul destruction, actually, & # 39; said Cdr King as he recalled the incident five weeks earlier. "You could almost hear the elation on their side. It was like a sick match. & # 39;
The British flag Stena Impero, which mainly had an Indian crew, traveled legally through disputed waters – one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world – when a team of Iranian special forces soldiers had walked there from a helicopter and had taken command.
HMS Montrose accompanies (almost) the container ship Brighton (far) through the Gulf. New figures also show that Iranian troops have faced HMS Montrose 115 times since the tanker was seized
The move, on July 19, was a tit-for-tat response to the seizure of the Iranian Grace I tanker by Marines in Gibraltar earlier that month after documents showed it was on its way to Syria in violation of sanctions. Stena Impero is still being held in the port of Bandar Abbas, in front of Iran, despite a court in Gibraltar releasing the Grace I. & # 39; They were nervous because they could see us coming up at full speed from the south and they were trying to get wild & # 39 ;, says the commander, a father of two.
And now Cdr King has revealed that since the Iranians have not found any British on the Stena Impero, the regime's navy has asked other ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz whether their crews include British passport holders.
He said: "There were no British subjects (Stena Impero) about which the Iranians were surprised. They began to ask tankers who came through the Gulf of Oman: "Are there any British nationals there?"
HMS Duncan (center) safely guides MV Mid Eagle (front) and MV BW Magellen (last) through the Strait of Hormuz
The brutal attempt to reach British citizens began on July 19, the day Stena Impero was seized, when Iran sent cruise missiles to the area where HMS Montrose operated in the Gulf. An alarm was triggered by the electronic surveillance system of the type 23 frigate and naval chiefs activated the highest readiness – "Action Stations".
Gunmen on the upper deck manned their 50-caliber machine guns and the gun controller in the operating room prepared the 4.5-inch medium-caliber gun ready – able to shoot 24 rounds per minute.
A Wildcat helicopter was sent to try and collect information about what was happening. Intelligence intercepted a conversation between Iranians showing that her forces had been allowed to use live rounds to storm the Stena Impero – and the Royal Navy does not doubt that they would have.
"We had reason to believe they were ready for a fight that night," said an HMS Montrose officer during the final mission: guiding three ships through the Strait of Hormuz.
New figures also show that Iranian troops have faced HMS Montrose 115 times since the tanker was seized.
These include flying drones to spy on the British ship, fast-moving speedboats with heavily armed soldiers wearing nearby balaclavas and intimidating messages.
The Daily Mail was given the first access to the warship because it protected the two tankers and a container ship from the Iranian threat as they passed through the narrow waterway last week.
A few hours after the mission, a warning is sent to the main broadcasting system: "We will be in a high threat area near the Iranians." Two Iranian drones were then seen in the air that "harassed" merchant ships, Brighton, Hellespont Pride and Moonbeam, traveling in convoy in the sweltering heat of 39 ° C.
Commander of HMS Montrose Will King, 41, (left) looking through binoculars. Cdr Kings said: "You could almost hear the elation on their side. It was like a sick match & # 39;
For the first part of their nerve-racking voyage, HMS Duncan protected the ships before HMS Montrose took over the last while navigating through Iranian territorial waters.
That is the frequency of Iranian clashes in the Gulf that Royal Navy officers speak with their counterparts about ten times a day on a typical day.
Shooter Dominic Blane, 22, with an SA-80 as the ship withdraws from a port of Dubai to guide tankers through the Strait of Hormuz
Archer Dominic Blane, 22, has had to prepare his .50cal heavy machine gun more than 20 times since he started his deployment four months ago. "If you've brought the Iranians up close, you have to get ready," he says from the upper deck. "When they come in, it is threatening and we are ready for this."
Cdr King said the actions of the Iranians were "certainly intimidating," and added, "They are in a position where they would like to test the UK's responses."
There are six Royal Marines at HMS Montrose at all times in a state of readiness and ready to board and protect all ships being attacked.
Cdr King says his biggest fear now is that an incident in the narrow waterway will become a "knife fight in a telephone booth".
He warns that tensions can escalate quickly and adds: "You have a mass of people with machine guns pointing at each other, who are at a distance of 300 meters from each other.
"That is the major concern, the miscalculation that ensues."
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