British-flagged tanker seized near Iran as Portsmouth-based destroyer heads to the region

HMS Duncan. Picture: LA(PHOT) Ben Sutton/MoD/ PA Wire
HMS Duncan. Picture: LA(PHOT) Ben Sutton/MoD/ PA Wire
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A British-flagged oil tanker has been seized in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran - as a Portsmouth-based Royal Navy destroyer heads to the region. 

A British-flagged oil tanker has been seized in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran - as a Portsmouth-based Royal Navy destroyer heads to the region. 

The owners of the Sten Impero have said they have been unable to contact their vessel, which had 23 personnel on board and was heading towards Iran. 

Iranian media has reported Stena Impero had been seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The incident comes as Portsmouth-based HMS Duncan, a £1bn destroyer, sails to the area to ensure the safe passage of ships along the busy shipping lane. 

It has been reported HMS Montrose was in Omani waters and tried reach the tanker but was around ten minutes too late. 

Speaking on Sky News, Lord West, former head of the Royal Navy, said the Royal Navy had ‘too few ships’ and would find it ‘extremely difficult’ to provide escorts to merchant vessels.

He said: ‘I'm absolutely amazed that we haven't implemented some sort of control of red ensign shipping within the region whereby no tanker would go in to what is clearly a dangerous zone without an escort.’

A second British-owned Liberian-flagged tanker, the Mesdar, was seized by armed guards earlier today, but it has now been released. 

The government's emergency committee, Cobra, is meeting for the second time on Friday to discuss the incident

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the government was ‘not looking at military options.’

He said: ‘We are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences.

‘We are not looking at military options. 

‘We are looking at a diplomatic way to resolve this situation but we are very clear that it must be resolved.’