Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Britain said Thursday that three Iranian vessels had unsuccessfully tried “to impede the passage” of a British commercial vessel transiting the Strait of Hormuz, but Tehran denied it. A statement issued by the British Ministry of Defense said a Royal Navy warship, the frigate HMS Montrose “was forced to position herself” between the Iranian vessels and the oil tanker, called the British Heritage.
The crew of the Montrose issued “verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” according to the British government statement, which added that London was “concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.”
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin said no shots were fired and the British Heritage continued on its way through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital water waterway that connects the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world via the Gulf of Oman. A third of the world’s shipped oil supply passes through the Strait every year, and Iran has threatened to halt that traffic in previous standoffs with the West.
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Martin said the British Heritage was intercepted by Iranian “fast boats,” small vessels used frequently by the Revolutionary Guard to harass commercial ships in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.