1st LD Writethru: UK warship HMS Duncan to replace HMS Montrose in Gulf: gov't spokesperson

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LONDON, July 12 (Xinhua) -- A British government spokesperson told Xinhua on Friday that the Royal Navy's warship HMS Duncan will be deployed to the Gulf to replace HMS Montrose, a frigate.

As part of Britain's long standing presence in the Gulf, HMS Duncan, an air-defence destroyer, is being deployed to the region to ensure Britain maintain a "continuous maritime security presence" while HMS Montrose comes off task for pre-planned maintenance and crew change over.

Earlier on Friday, British media widely reported that the country is sending another warship to the Gulf.

The spokesperson said the move will ensure that Britain alongside international partners can continue to support freedom of navigation for vessels transiting through the vital shipping lane.

Also on Friday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged to add more warships to the Royal Navy's fleet if he wins the Tory leadership race and becomes prime minister.

Hunt has vowed to increase the UK's defense spending from 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 2.5 percent and add more jets.

"When you look at this week's events it shows that over recent decades we have run down the Navy too much," Hunt wrote in the Daily Telegraph on Friday.

In an interview with local media, Hunt said Britain's response to rising tensions with Iran have been "measured" and "careful".

Hunt's pledge came as tensions are mounting in the Gulf after the British government said that a Royal Navy warship drove off Iranian patrol boats that were allegedly attempting to impede the progress of a British tanker sailing through the Strait of Hormuz.

An Iranian official has been quoted by international media as warning Britain not to get involved in "this dangerous game."

The police of Britain's overseas territory Gibraltar arrested on Thursday the captain and chief officer of an Iranian oil supertanker Grace 1, which was reportedly transporting Iranian crude oil to Syria.

British Marines and Gibraltar police intercepted the oil tanker on July 4 in the Strait of Gibraltar in the south of the Iberian Peninsula over alleged violation of the European Union's sanctions against Syria.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday warned Britain of the "consequences" following the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker.

"I remind the Britons: you are the ones initiating insecurity, and you will come to realize its consequences in the future," Rouhani said in a cabinet meeting, quoted by Press TV. Enditem

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