Iran’s gunboat challenge against a British tanker could have caused a massive explosion and billions in damages

  • Iran’s latest move sending armed boats to try to force a British oil tanker into its territorial waters could have resulted in a catastrophic explosion had the gunboats fired on the empty tanker, potentially disrupting a key strait where an estimated $US1 billion of crude oil passes daily.
  • The UK was on high alert in the Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway on Iran’s border, with Royal Navy escorts nearby and a tanker that didn’t fill up with oil.
  • But an empty tanker can carry explosive vapors, and if the Iranians had fired on the ship with missiles or high-calibre guns, it could have blown it sky high. According to reports, the gunboats tried to force the tanker into Iranian waters before a Royal Navy frigate intervened.
  • “Had Iran’s boats fired on MT BRITISH HERITAGE it could have caused a major catastrophe if the empty tanker’s cargo tanks were filled with flammable vapors,” a professor of maritime law told Business Insider.

When three Iranian gunboats tried to seize an unloaded British oil tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz, they were playing an extremely dangerous game that could have threatened one of the world’s most valuable trade routes with a massive explosion and burning wreckage.

The UK government told Business Insider that the Iranians attempted to steer the British vessel into its territorial waters. This follows the UK seizing an Iranian ship bound for Syria on the grounds that it was violating international sanctions.

Read the article by Alex Lockie on Business Insider Australia.