ROYAL Marine commandos seized missiles from Iran in a series of daring High Seas raids.
Crack boarding teams stormed a pair of Iranian vessels carrying surface to air missiles and engines for cruise missiles with a range of 600 miles.
The Navy said the record seizures was “the first time a British Naval warship has interdicted a vessel carrying such sophisticated weapons from Iran”.
Two raids took place in January and February but they were only revealed today.
The Navy said a Wildcat helicopter, armed with hi-tech radars, “spotted small vessels moving at speed away from the Iranian coast” in the early hours.
The chopper had scrambled from HMS Montrose, a Type 23 frigate now permanently based in the Gulf.
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The Navy said: “On both occasions the Wildcat helicopter pursued the vessels and reported back to HMS Montrose that they could see suspicious cargo on deck.
“A team of Royal Marines approached the vessels on two Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats before securing and searching the vessel.
“Dozens of packages containing advanced weaponry were discovered, confiscated and brought back to HMS Montrose.”
The illicit cargo was brought to Britain for analysis and included “multiple rocket engines for the Iranian produced 351 land attack cruise missiles” which have been used by Iranian backed rebels to attack Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
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It also included a batch of 358 surface to air missiles” the Navy said.
The MoD said: “The 351 is a cruise missile with a range of 1000kms, it is regularly used by the Houthis to strike targets in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and was also the type of weapon used to attack Abu Dhabi on 17th January 2022, which killed three civilians.”
The raids were revealed after Iran falsely claimed that Britain’s deputy ambassador had been arrested for spying.
The Foreign Office said: “Reports of the arrest of a British diplomat in Iran are completely false.”
Iran’s Fars news claimed Giles Whitaker had been detained with unnamed academics for collecting soil samples in restricted areas.
A diplomatic source said Whitaker left Tehran in December.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said the Royal Navy seizures showed the UK was “committed to upholding international law”.
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He said: “The UK will continue to work in support of an enduring peace in Yemen and is committed to international maritime security so that commercial shipping can transit safely without threat of disruption.”
Commander Claire Thompson, the captain of HMS Montrose, said: “I am extremely proud of my crew – the Royal Navy sailors, aircrew and Royal Marines involved in these endeavours and the significant positive impact they are having in maintaining the international rules-based order at sea.”
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