UK Fears Iranian Retaliation against British-Flagged Tankers

The Royal Navy has begun escorting UK tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf in fear of retaliatory actions by Iran following the controversial seizure of the Grace 1 tanker in Gibraltar

The seized Grace 1 supertanker (Photo: AP)

A British warship escorted at least one UK tanker through the Strait of Hormuz amid rising tensions with Tehran following the interception of the Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar last week, according to a report by Lloyds’ List.

The Isle of Man-flagged Pacific Voyager was accompanied by at least two military vessels for part of its journey through the Strait of Hormuz after sailing from Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia on July 7. The carrier had loaded a 2 million barrel cargo there, based on vessel tracking data.

Another Isle of Man-flagged tanker, British Heritage, diverted and failed to load its 140,000-ton cargo of crude at Basrah, Iraq, as planned on July 4 – the day Grace 1 was intercepted off Gibraltar. Instead, the vessel headed to Saudi waters where it has remained for the past 48 hours.

Twenty British-flagged vessels of 15,000 dwt or above have sailed through the Strait of Hormuz into Middle East Gulf waters since July 2, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data. The UK Chamber of Shipping said it was working with the UK government and relevant departments in light of the threats made by Iran.

The escorts and diversions are seen amid hardening Iranian rhetoric following the interception and impounding of an Iranian-controlled very large crude carrier Grace 1. The chief of staff for Iran’s armed forces has said a British ship would be taken in retaliation.