Both sides of the story of the Iranian Tanker and the HMS Montrose.

Big Al apologizes for for the somewhat “sloppy posting”. He is still learning.

The Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images)

( – A Royal Navy warship on Wednesday prevented Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel in small boats from stopping and boarding a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, according to U.S. and British officials.

They said several small boats approached the tanker British Heritage near the northern entrance to the narrow Persian Gulf strait, one of the world’s most strategic maritime chokepoints.

An unnamed U.S. official told Reuters that after the HMS Montrose, a Royal Navy frigate, “pointed it guns at the boats and warned them over radio,” the boats had dispersed.

A British government spokesman said early on Thursday, “Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz. We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.”

The incident came just days after senior regime officials in Tehran said that if Britain does not release an Iranian tanker detained off Gibraltar a week ago, then Iran may seize a British ship.

In response to queries, U.S. Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said in an email, “We are aware of the reports of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp Navy’s FAC/FIAC harassment and attempts to interfere with the passage of the UK-flagged merchant vessel British Heritage today near the Strait of Hormuz.”

“Threats to international freedom of navigation require an international solution,” Urban added. “The world economy depends on the free flow of commerce, and it is incumbent on all nations to protect and preserve this lynchpin of global prosperity.”

The abbreviations FAC/FIAC stand for fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft.

A 2017 Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) report describes Iranian FACs as small, fast vessels, obtained from China and North Korea or built domestically, able to reach speeds of 40-50 knots, and “armed with capable weapons systems, such as cruise missiles and torpedoes.”

FIACs are more lightly armed and tend to operate in “swarms.”

“Usually fitted with only machine guns and/or rockets, and used en masse, these vessels are capable of harassing merchant shipping and conducting swarm tactics during a force-on-force naval engagement,” the ONI report said.

The British Heritage, a 160,000-ton capacity tanker, sails under the flag of the Isle of Man, a British dependency.

Earlier this week it was reported that the HMS Montrose, which has been forward-based in Bahrain since April, had been escorting another British tanker, the Pacific Voyager, in the Hormuz area. That 302,000-ton capacity tanker also flies the Isle of Man flag.

Iran and Britain are at loggerheads over the seizure on July 4 of an Iranian tanker, Grace I, after it was boarded by British Royal Marines off the coast of Gibraltar, a British territory at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.

Gibraltar authorities say they acted on the grounds the ship was taking crude oil to Syria, in violation of European Union sanctions against the Assad regime.

Iran accused Britain of “piracy,” and then later claimed that the ship was not headed for Syria but another, unspecified, destination. The Grace I remains at anchor off Gibraltar as investigations continue.

A day after it was detained Mohsen Rezai, a former IRGC commander who now heads the Expediency Council – a body that advises supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – said that if Britain does not release the ship it was Iran’s responsibility “to seize a British oil tanker in a retaliatory measure.”

On Tuesday this week, Iran’s chief of general staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri said Britain’s actions would not go unanswered.

“The U.K.’s move will not be left without response,” he said. “If necessary, Iran will give a proper response to the act at an appropriate time and place.”

On Wednesday, Iranian media quoted President Hassan Rouhani as mocking Britain for deploying a warship in the region to escort its tankers because it was “scared.”

“You [Britain] are the initiator of insecurity and you will realize the consequences later,” Rouhani said after a cabinet meeting. “Now you are so hopeless that, when one of your tankers wants to move in the region, you have to bring your frigates because you are scared.”

Responding to news of Iran’s failed attempt to stop the tanker, Norman Roule, a former CIA veteran and advisor to the advocacy group United Against a Nuclear Iran, tweeted, “The international community needs to firmly & quickly stand with the UK at this moment.”

“Iran’s people also need to understand that Tehran’s actions will not be tolerated. The weak response to the mine attacks [on four tankers in June, blamed by the U.S. on Iran] may have encouraged this.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said this week the U.S. is proposing a coalition of countries to patrol and escort shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and another important waterway, the Bab el Mandeb in the south of the Red Sea.

Big Al says here is the other side of this story:

Iran Accuses UK, US of ‘Piracy’ After Seizure of Tanker Bound for Assad’s Syria

By Patrick Goodenough | July 5, 2019 | 4:26 AM EDT

A British Royal Navy ship patrols near the detained supertanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar. (Photo by Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)

( – The Iranian regime is accusing Britain of an act of “piracy” after Royal Marines helped law enforcement officers in Gibraltar to seize a supertanker carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria in apparent violation of international sanctions against the Assad regime.

A contingent of Royal Marines in a helicopter and inflatable boats boarded the Grace I off Gibraltar and took control of the 331-meter-long tanker in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Local media reports say the detained ship remains at anchor while the 28 crew members are being questioned and investigations continue. Under prevailing law the ship can be held for 72 hours before a court order extending the hold becomes necessary.

Europe and United States are deeply divided over sanctions against Iran, but reported U.S. prodding succeeded in getting Britain to take action against the ship, on the basis of the oil’s destination, not its origin.

The tanker seizure comes at a time when relations between Iran and the E.U. are especially sensitive, as the E.U. at Iran’s behest struggles to keep the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal afloat despite the U.S. withdrawal and restoration of sanctions.

While the E.U. supports Iran’s right to export oil under the JCPOA, the U.S. is pressuring countries to stop buying it, in a broader effort to coerce Tehran into changing its behavior.

Reflecting the sensitivities, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s reaction to the incident did not mention Iran at all, focusing instead on the Syria angle.

British Royal Marines onboard the seized tanker. (Photo: Ministry of Defence, UK)

Hunt in a tweet congratulated Gibraltar and the Royal Marines “for this bold move to enforce Syria sanctions,” and said their actions had “denied valuable resources to Assad’s murderous regime.”

Reaction from a spokesman for Downing Street also focused on Syria: “We welcome this firm action to enforce E.U. sanctions against the Syrian regime and commend those Gibraltarian authorities involved in successfully carrying out this morning’s operation.”

By contrast, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton on Twitter referred to both Syria and Iran.

He noted that the oil was bound for Syria “in violation of EU sanctions,” and added that “America & our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran & Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade.”

According to vessel tracking data cited by Lloyds List, the Panamanian-flaggedtanker took on its cargo of two million barrels of crude at an Iranian port in mid-April and then made the long voyage around the tip of Africa, headed for the Mediterranean.

(The website says the Grace I took the long route because a fully-laden supertanker “can’t traverse the Suez Canal due to the water depth.”)

Gibraltar is a tiny British protectorate strategically located near the entrance to the Mediterranean and claimed by neighboring Spain.

Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, in a statement Thursday highlighted the destination of the oil – the Banias Refinery in Syria.

The Banias Refinery, a subsidiary of the Syrian petroleum ministry, has been targeted by both E.U. and U.S. sanctions since 2014, on the basis that it provides financial support to the Syrian regime.

“As the sanctions being enforced are established by the E.U., I have written this morning to the presidents of the European Commission and Council, setting out the details of the sanctions which we have enforced,” Picardo said.

He praised the Gibraltar port, police and customs authorities, and the Royal Marines, for detaining the vessel and its cargo

“Be assured that Gibraltar remains safe, secure and committed to the international, rules-based, legal order,” Picardo concluded.

‘Bullying’ US policy

According to Spanish media reports, Spain’s government is troubled by the incident and may file a formal complaint with Britain.

Spain does not recognize Gibraltar’s territorial waters, but considers them to fall under its jurisdiction.

The Gibraltar Chronicle quoted Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell – who has just been named as the new European Union foreign policy chief – as telling reporters that Britain acted in response to a “demand by the United States” and that Spain was examining “how it affects our sovereignty because it happened in, what we understand, are Spanish waters.”

Iran’s state-funded Press TV commented that, “Since Iran’s tanker was carrying fuel and oil to Syrian people for solely humanitarian purposes, the measure taken by the British government is not only illegal, but also inhumane.”

“Iran and Syria enjoy vast commercial and trade ties and under the international law, Britain has no right to interfere in their relations,” it added.

Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador and lodged a protest, accusing Britain of complying with “bullying” U.S. policy.

The ministry demanded the release of the ship, which it said had been sailing in international waters

Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told Iranian television the actions of the Royal Marines were “a form of piracy.”

The Royal Marines, an arm of the Royal Navy, have a strong historical association with Gibraltar going back to the early 18th century, when they and Dutch forces in a joint operation seized the territory during a European conflict known as the War of Spanish Succession. (The word “Gibraltar” features on the badge of the Royal Marines.)

Much more recently, the Royal Navy was embroiled in a controversy with Iran, when in March 2007, an Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) naval unit seized British sailors and marines off the Iran-Iraq coast, claiming they were in Iranian waters.

The regime held 15 Brits hostage for 13 days during which they were subjected to psychological pressure before then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he was releasing them as a “gift” to the British people.

In an earlier incident in the same area, Iran in 2004 seized two British sailors and six marines who were training members of the new Iraqi security forces in anti-smuggling operations. They were held for three days, during which time some were paraded on Iranian television and made to “apologize.”

The U.S. and several other countries accuse Iran of responsibility for sabotage attacks on six tankers near the Persian Gulf since May.

  1. On July 11, 2019 at 7:58 pm,
    Ebolan says:

    Must see Tommy Robinson interview.

    You see this Irish?

    (Also, a good generation z’er on the useless wars and if the neoturds have their way you going to have yet another one coming up real soon.)

  2. On July 11, 2019 at 7:59 pm,
    Ebolan says:

    Must see Tommy Robinson interview.

    You see this Irish?

    (Also, a good generation z’er on the useless wars and if the neoturds have their way you’re going to have yet another one coming up real soon.)

  3. On July 11, 2019 at 9:49 pm,
    cfs says:

    There is talk of Iran’s charging fees for passage of any ship through the straits of Hormuz, which Iran is now claiming the South-going channel is in its territorial waters.

  4. On July 12, 2019 at 1:26 pm,
    Al B Korelin says:

    I posted this simply because I wanted to bring up Iran’s side of the story. No more and no less. Not sure how we got off on all the other stuff.

  5. On July 12, 2019 at 1:44 pm,
    cfs says:

    Dave Janda summarizes Mueller Clinton Obama problems

  6. On July 12, 2019 at 5:11 pm,
    cfs says: