Iran warning: HMS Montrose would have ‘destroyed’ Tehran boats says Navy chief

Its high-powered mini-guns and 4.5in gun are more than capable of destroying small patrol boats. But while they may have backed down this time, I fully expect the Iranians to keep up the harassment. The latest situation is a case of back to the future for me.

In the 1980s, I was flight commander of a helicopter aboard a frigate in the same sea lanes, escorting British tankers against a near identical Iranian threat. 

On one occasion we had an Iranian frigate threatening a tanker and we launched in our Lynx helicopter with two armed Sea Skua missiles which we would have fired in the case of a hostile act or hostile intent. The Iranians knew we were airborne and armed.

As in the case of HMS Montrose, they eventually backed off. 

Clearly, if you are unescorted as a merchant ship and subjected to the threat of force you are going to have to stop to save life. That’s why you need to have the Navy on hand.  

What is good news is that the UK has demonstrated it is prepared to preserve the principle of the freedom of the seas. If we’d allowed the tanker to be stopped and boarded, who knows where it could have ended? 

Rogue regimes and adventurous states constantly test the boundaries of tolerance.  

If you show them where the red line is, they tend not to want to cross it. 

● Chris Parry is author of Super Highway: Sea Power In The 21st Century.

• Chris Parry is an Ex-Royal Navy Officer and Security Expert.

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