Iran Protests Arrival of Second British Naval Vessel in Persian Gulf
(Source: Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty; issued July 29, 2019)
Iran has protested the arrival of the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Duncan in the Gulf, where she and the frigate HMS Montrose will escort British-flagged merchant ships through the Strait of Hormuz. (RN photo)
A second British warship arrived in the Persian Gulf as Iran has called Britain’s proposal for a European-led maritime mission to escort tankers in the area “provocative.”

Britain’s Defense Ministry said that the HMS Duncan destroyer joined the HMS Montrose frigate to “support the safe passage of British-flagged ships” through the Strait of Hormuz that [separates] the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said Britain’s intention to send a European fleet to the Persian Gulf “carries a hostile message.”

Britain has said the purpose of the maritime patrol is in response to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker -- the Stena Impero -- on July 19.

"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 U.K. vessels until this is the reality,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said.

Two weeks ago, British authorities seized an Iranian tanker off its overseas territory of Gibraltar over allegations that it was in violation of European Union sanctions on Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also has called for a heavier warship presence in the Gulf to “ensure freedom of navigation” in the area.

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HMS Duncan Arrives in the Gulf
(Source: Royal Navy; issued July 28, 2019)
The Royal Navy's HMS Duncan has arrived in the Gulf to support the safe passage of British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz.

Freedom of navigation is crucial for the global trading system and world economy, and the Government has committed to doing all it can to defend it.

Last week the Government confirmed that the Royal Navy has been tasked to accompany British-flagged ships through the Strait, to provide reassurance to the shipping industry.

Type 45 Destroyer HMS Duncan will work with Type 23 Frigate HMS Montrose until she comes off duty in late August, ensuring the continuous availability of ships to accompany merchant vessels.

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."

HMS Montrose covers an operating area of some 19,000 nautical miles. She has so far accompanied 35 merchant vessels through the Strait during 20 separate transits, travelling 6,200 nautical miles in the process.

Commander Tom Trent, the Commanding Officer of HMS Duncan, said: "HMS Duncan has arrived in the Strait of Hormuz to continue the outstanding work to protect British maritime interests conducted by HMS Montrose and the United Kingdom Maritime Component Commander’s staff in Bahrain. HMS Duncan has shown the true flexibility of the Royal Navy by moving at pace to this area of operations.

"We have relocated from an intense deployment in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, which included support to the French carrier strike group with live operations in Syria. The Royal Navy continues to deliver consistent, enduring and world-class capability in the region – HMS Duncan is proud to support this vital operation and ready to play her part."

Later in the year, another Type 23 Frigate, HMS Kent, will take over this tasking from HMS Duncan. HMS Montrose will remain stationed in the Middle East until 2022 as part of the Royal Navy’s permanent presence in the Middle East.

Operation Kipion, the operational name for UK forces in the region, is our commitment to promoting peace and stability as well as ensuring the safe flow of trade, and countering narcotics and piracy.

The UK has a long-standing maritime presence in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. For almost 40 years, units of both the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary have maintained a constant presence in the Gulf.

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