The British HMS Montrose has 85 & # 39; interactions & # 39; had been patrolling the Gulf in just 27 days with Iranian troops, the commander of the Royal Navy ship has revealed.
Cdr William King revealed a frequent & # 39; exchange of warnings & # 39; between Great Britain and Iran while Montrose is making efforts to protect British shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, & # 39; the world's busiest oil transportation route.
Iran has already seized one British ship, the Stena Impero, as a retaliation for a Royal Navy operation for Gibraltar and Tehran has hinted that its troops could strike again.
Speaking from the Gulf to the Today program of BBC Radio 4, Cdr King said Iranian forces had expressed threats about the British presence and had been running fast boats to Montrose to test the reactions of the Royal Navy.
British sailors, however, have a & # 39; healthy understanding & # 39; developed with the Iranians and the contact remains & # 39; professional & # 39 ;, he said.
The British HMS Montrose (photo) has 85 & # 39; interactions & # 39; had with Iranian forces patrolling the Gulf in just 27 days, the commander of the Royal Navy ship has revealed
The HMS Montrose (shown in this diagram) has already had to confront Iranian ships
& # 39; Increasing concern & # 39; for the Stena Impero crew
There is growing concern about the crew of a British flag tanker seized by Iranian troops, with shipowners pushing for more government action.
Tank company Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management have called for more help for the crew of the Stena Impero, seized by the Iranian armed forces on July 19.
Stena Bulk president and chief executive Erik Hanell has urged the government to take action.
Mr Hanell said: “Since little progress has been made since the ship was seized on July 19, we urge the governments concerned to find a quick solution so that our 23 valued seafarers can return to their families and continue with this test.
& # 39; We reiterate that there is no evidence of a collision with the Stena Impero and at the time of the seizure, the ship was well within the incoming traffic separation system and outside Iranian territorial waters.
& # 39; All required navigation equipment, including transponders, functioned fully, in accordance with the maritime regulations. & # 39;
According to a statement from Stena Bulk, the company & # 39; has a growing concern for the welfare of the crew limited to the ship & # 39 ;.
Montrose returns to the port later this week and is replaced by HMS Duncan, a destroyer who arrived in the region on Sunday.
& # 39; It is a busy, congested maritime space for which Montrose has spent the last 28 days mainly on patrols, & # 39; said Cdr King this morning.
Describing the Street, he said the British Marines were working with a & # 39; whole horde & # 39; merchant ships, including tankers, bulk ships and smaller ships.
& # 39; We have been here since this crisis with Iran began to unfold and we have now done 23 transits through the Strait almost every day, "he said.
& # 39; We have effectively guided UK-registered shipping through the Strait while continuing to protect the freedom of navigation rights that are so crucial to an island state.
& # 39; I have had 85 interactions with Iranian forces in the last 27 days, so that gives you an idea of the intensity.
& # 39; The Iranians seem to like to test our determination, usually test our responses and as you would expect us to, we are ready to respond, I have 215 in my team who are highly educated and enjoy the professional opportunities. & # 39;
When asked what the Iranians were doing, he said: & # 39; They will claim that our presence may be illegal, even though we are fully legal in international waters, they can also sail boats at us to test what warning levels we are to achieve .
& # 39; In the maritime sector, this is what we would expect and this is what we have seen before.
& # 39; The intensity is perhaps more than we have seen in recent times, and of course they are not used to seeing it by the merchant navy, and as such our presence is crucial to assuring them that we are actually able to any kind of aggression that the Iranians can show.
Stuck in a political crisis: an aerial photo of the stationary British oil tanker Stena Impero seized on 17 July by the Revolutionary Guard of Iran
Armed guard: two members of the Revolutionary Guards of Iran inspect the captured British tanker on a photo taken earlier this month
When asked if any British merchant could be accompanied, he said: & Of course it's a challenge if you have an area twice as large as Wales with one ship.
& # 39; Fortunately, we are accompanied by HMS Duncan, so we are in a strong position to provide the guidance needed to provide that permanent reassurance. & # 39;
Despite the presence of Montrose in the Gulf, Iran intercepted British tanker Stena Impero on July 19 as it passed through the Strait and held the ship in an Iranian port.
Britain on Monday excluded the exchange of tankers, and has proposed the formation of a European-led naval escort mission for worldwide shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.
It comes when US President Donald Trump is running a & # 39; maximum pressure & # 39; campaign of economic sanctions and reinforced military presence to force Tehran to renegotiate a milestone 2015 nuclear pact that he concluded last year.
Caught: Iran paraded the crew of the Stena Impero oil tanker, which sails under a British flag, after its revolutionary guards captured the ship
Footage broadcast on the Iranian state TV shows the confiscated British registered oil tanker with an Iranian flag hoisted above
Flash point: The Stena Impero, the British tanker in the middle of the latest tensions in the Middle East, can be seen in a heavily guarded Iranian port
The British authorities intercepted Iranian tanker Grace 1 from Gibraltar on July 4 and said that it was carrying a shipment of Iranian crude oil to Syria.
Britain says the tanker was seized because it was en route to Syria in violation of EU sanctions – not because he was Iranian.
Iran, however, reacted furiously and repeated threats against British shipping – which it eventually implemented when it seized the Stena Impero two weeks later.
Tehran initially claimed that the Stena had been seized for violating maritime laws after he had probably hit a fishing boat and turned off his distress signal.
But Iran itself contradicted that claim and made it clear on Saturday that the conquest of the Impero was retribution for the Gibraltar operation.
& # 39; The rule of mutual action is well known in international law & # 39 ;, said Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, a spokesman for the Iranian Guardian Council, earlier this month.
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