Iran crisis: Another Navy destroyer sent to Gulf as UK ramps up region's military defences

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said HMS Duncan arrived in the Gulf on Sunday to offer further protection to ships flying with the British flag. The type 45 Destroyer will join HMS Montorse in the troubled waters, with the ship already escorting 35 vessels through the strait during 20 separate journeys.  It comes after it was previously announced that British-flagged ships in the Strait of Hormuz will be accompanied by the Royal Navy escort. 

Tensions between Iran and the West are growing deeper, following Iran retaliating over the seizure of an oil tanker thought to be heading to Syria 

The UK says the vessel broke EU sanctions on the importation of Iranian crude. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz is vital not just to the UK, but also our international partners and allies.  

“Merchant ships must be free to travel lawfully and trade safely, anywhere in the world. 

"I'm pleased that HMS Duncan will continue HMS Montrose's fine work in helping to secure this essential route. 

"While we continue to push for a diplomatic resolution that will make this possible again without military accompaniment, the Royal Navy will continue to provide a safeguard for UK vessels until this is the reality." 

Last Wednesday, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said the captured British oil tanker seized could be released if the UK returns the seized Iranian oil tanker.  

Stena Bulk, who owns the British-flagged tanker, said embassy officials have met crew members from their respective countries. 

A statement from the company said: "Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management continue to work closely with the authorities to secure the release of the Stena Impero and its 23 crew members. 

"Feedback from the officials is that the crew are in good health and they appreciated the interaction with their government representatives. 

"The crew members continue to have limited contact with family members, who we continue to support during this difficult time." 

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Britain had a responsibility to “look after its own ships” travelling through the Persian Gulf. 

Mr Pompeo said: “The responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships.”  

Continuing, Pompeo said Iran “now conducted what amounts to national piracy, a nation state taking over a ship that’s traveling in international waters”. 

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