HMS Lancaster (Picture Ministry of Defence).
Navy

HMS Lancaster first to respond after suspected Iranian drone attack on tanker off Oman

HMS Lancaster (Picture Ministry of Defence).

The Royal Navy was the first to respond to an attack on a commercial tanker off the coast of Oman, the US has said.

The White House praised Britain's Senior Service for leading the multilateral response to the incident which has been blamed on Iran.

HMS Lancaster was first on the scene after the ship's company were made aware of the incident in the Gulf of Oman, launching her Wildcat helicopter to act as a safeguard while offering assistance to the crew of the tanker.

The oil tanker MV Pacific Zircon, owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, was moving through international waters when it is thought to have been attacked on 15 November.

The Royal Navy Type 23 frigate is reported to have been joined by US Navy destroyer USS The Sullivans, patrol ship USS Chinook, and a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft following the suspected attack, which the United States believes was carried out by Iran using a drone.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, in a US White House press briefing, praised the Royal Navy for its response to the suspected attack, saying: "The British Royal Navy was the first to respond, and we express appreciation for the multilateral co-ordination led by the UK. 

"We will work with partners and allies, including as part of the International Maritime Security Construct, to hold Iran accountable and respond through appropriate means."

Mr Sullivan condemned the incident, saying: "We are confident that Iran likely conducted this attack using a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), a lethal capability it is increasingly employing directly and via its proxies throughout the Middle East and proliferating to Russia for use in Ukraine."

Mr Sullivan added that there was "no justification" for the attack and it further threatens freedom of navigation through the waterway.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "After being made aware of an incident in the Gulf of Oman, Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster approached a vessel and offered assistance to the ship's crew."

The tanker's crew is said to have needed no further assistance.