A large British-flagged tanker has transited the Strait of Hormuz accompanied by a Royal Navy frigate in the first such passage since Iran seized a U.K.-flagged vessel last week.
BW Group’s Isle of Man-flagged gas carrier BW Elm made the passage on Tuesday, despite UK government guidance to avoid the route, according to Lloyd’s List.
The 2007-built BW Elm is the first British vessel above 10,000 dwt seen to transit the passage since Stena Impero, a UK-flagged, Stena Bulk-owned product tanker, was seized by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on July 19.
British warship HMS Montrose closely shadowed the vessel but did not provide a direct escort.
Data on tracking site Marine Traffic showed the commercial ship arrived at a port in Qatar early Wednesday after transiting the strait.
In a statement to the AP, the ship’s owner BW LPG declined to comment on specifics, but said the company “is grateful for the U.K. and international community for their naval presence” providing security to ships in the area.
The transit through international waters in the Gulf of Oman lasted about four hours at more than 17 knots, vessel-tracking data shows.
The UK announced on Monday its intention to resume trading on the route adding it plans to join a European-led maritime mission to protect ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt described the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ seizure of the Stena Impero on Friday as “an act of piracy.”
“If Iran continues on this dangerous path, they must accept the price will be a larger Western military presence in the waters along their coastline, not because we wish to increase tensions but simply because freedom of navigation is a principle which Britain and its allies will always defend,” Hunt said during a speech before Parliament.
He said Britain entered discussions with representatives from multiple countries to establish the force. In the meantime, the British Navy dispatched the HMS Duncan, a destroyer, to take over for the HMS Montrose in the strait.
AP contributed to this report
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