LONDON, July 17 (Reuters) – Britain is sending its HMS Kent warship to the Persian Gulf to protect its interests and ensure freedom of navigation after tensions with Iran, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Wednesday, after earlier saying that the mission was routine.
Iran has vowed to respond to what it calls Britain’s “piracy” over the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar.
On Tuesday, the MoD called the frigate’s deployment long-planned, but on Wednesday it said that details had been mixed up with those of support ship RFA Wave Knight.
“We regret the information regarding the pre-planned deployment of RFA Wave Knight has been conflated with the deployment of HMS Kent to the Gulf,” it added in a statement.
“We remain focused on ensuring de-escalation in the region and will act appropriately to protect UK interests and ensure freedom of navigation,” it said. “The deployment of HMS Kent to the Gulf later this year, to ensure we have a ship at sea, reflects just that.”
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison)