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Boost to security in Gulf as second warship arrives

A second warship has arrived in the Strait of Hormuz to protect British ships as the Iranian seizure of a tanker enters its second week.

The Ministry of Defence said the Royal Navy vessel HMS Duncan has arrived in the Gulf to travel with ships flying the British flag.

The Type 45 Destroyer joins the frigate HMS Montrose amid growing tensions after the July 19 seizure of British-flagged tanker Stena Impero by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

It was previously announced British-flagged ships travelling in the Strait of Hormuz will have a Royal Navy escort, with officials advising shipping firms to travel in convoy.

HMS Montrose has so far escorted 35 shipping vessels through the troubled strait during 20 separate journeys.

The Ministry of Defence stressed the importance of freedom of navigation for global trade and economies.

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 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.”

Around a fifth of the world’s oil travelled through the strait between Iran and Oman in 2018.

On Wednesday, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani indicated that the captured Stena Impero could be released if the UK returns an Iranian oil tanker seized by the Royal Navy near Gibraltar earlier this month.

Stena Bulk, which owns the British-flagged tanker, said embassy officials have met crew members from their respective countries.

A statement from the firm on Saturday said: “Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management continue to work closely with the authorities to secure the release of the Stena Impero and its 23 crew members.

“Feedback from the officials is that the crew are in good health and they appreciated the interaction with their government representatives.

“The crew members continue to have limited contact with family members.”

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