THE Royal Navy has refused to rule out using force against Iran amid ongoing tensions in the Gulf.
Since Iranian forces seized Stena Impero on July 19, the Royal Navy has increased its presence in the region, with Portsmouth-based warships HMS Duncan and HMS Kent forming part of a taskforce protecting vessels in the area.
With the Stena Impero still impounded, the UK is now considering the use of unmanned drones to protect ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
Speaking to Sky News, Commodore Dean Bassett – the senior naval officer in the region – said that there is still a ‘direct threat’ to British merchant vessels.
He said: ‘The direct threat to those British merchant vessels still stands.
‘We've seen nothing to suggest that Iran is going to abide by its international obligations.
‘While we call on Iran to abide by its international obligations, the Royal Navy – my sailors, my Marines and the ships under my command – are absolutely ready to protect and defend British merchant vessels in this theatre.’
HMS Montrose, which is now on permanent deployment in Bahrain, has supported almost 40 transits through the Gulf in the past few months.
The ship's captain, Commander Will King, said: ‘We're in a position where we are providing steady state protection to British-registered shipping.
‘I think there is still a threat to interference and hindrance but we are in a strong position to keep delivering that protection for as long as it takes."