THE ROYAL NAVY has confirmed it will send a second warship to the Persian Gulf to protect British shipping amid tensions with Iran.
The new deployment will be for HMS Duncan, a Daring class destroyer. It will join HMS Montrose which is already in the region protecting cargo vessels and oil tankers. HMS Montrose was the ship that came to the rescue of BP tanker British Heritage after it had its passage impeded by five Iranian Revolutionary Guards ships.
HMS Duncan will arrive in the region at some point next week after it completes NATO exercises in the Baltic Sea.
The UK has also sent elite Special Boat Service operatives to the region who are specialised in hunting and removing mines.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has used tensions with Tehran to call for doubling defence spending: “We take maritime security very seriously.
“It is our primary responsibility to protect British shipping.
“This is a situation that is changing every hour, but we are reacting to what is happening in a clear and very measured way.”
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) headed by minister Penny Mordaunt said it wants to ease the tension.
Tehran threatened to seize a UK oil tanker after an Iranian one was detained in Gibraltar, suspected of heading to Syria in violation of sanctions, though London said this was a move against Damascus.
The MoD said HMS Duncan could help British policing: “As part of our long-standing presence in the Gulf, HMS Duncan is deploying to the region to ensure we maintain a continuous maritime security presence while HMS Montrose comes off task for pre-planned maintenance and crew change over.
“This will ensure that the UK alongside international partners can continue to support freedom of navigation for vessels transiting through this vital shipping lane.”
HMS Duncan was launched just under a decade ago is named after Adam Duncan, Viscount of Camperdown.
It can hit a top speed of 35mph and has a range of 7,000 nautical miles.
It has a large flight deck and enclosed hangar which allows it carry a small number of helicopters that can be armed with anti-submarine missiles.
The ship has previously been used in Britain’s fight against ISIS.