Jan 15, 2021

Five Iranian fast boats tried to seize a British tanker entering the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday. The tanker however, was being escorted by a UK Royal Navy frigate, HMS Montros the Jerusalem Post reports. According to the report, the Iranian fast boats, operated by the The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), approached the tanker and instructed the captain to change course into Iranian territorial waters. An American surveillance aircraft that was also escorting the tanker recorded the exchange from above. 

At that point, the British battleship aimed its guns at the Iranian fast boats warning them to stand down. The Iranian boats backed off and went on their way. 

The incident comes just one day after the Pentagon announced their interest in forming an international coalition to protect sea transport in and around Iran’s coastline. More specifically, in strategic water passages between Iran and Yemen..

And although Iran has a track record of seizing British Navy vessels, This is the first time it has targeted a commercial vessel. Middle East affairs analyst Seth Frantzman called the act one “that looks more like piracy in the eyes of international law and the law of the seas.”

Last week, the UK seized a Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar following accusations that they were violating sanctions by transporting oil to Syria.

Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps military commander Major General Mohammad Bagheri said that the “aggression” wouldn’t go “unanswered.” 

“Capture of the Iranian oil tanker based on fabricated excuses … will not be unanswered and when necessary Tehran will give appropriate answer,” Bagheri said.