The UK raised the security level for British ships in the Arabian Gulf to its highest state of alert as it deployed a second warship to the region amid growing tensions with Iran.
The decision to raise the threat level to 3, or "critical," was made the day day before Iranian ships attempted to seize a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, according to Sky News.
A security level of 3 means that there is an imminent risk of an attack on a UK ship, according to the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) security code.
The UK is sending the warship HMS Duncan to the Arabian Gulf to support HMS Montrose, which will soon undergo maintenance and a change of crew, according to the Ministry of Defense.
“This will ensure that the UK alongside international partners can continue to support freedom of navigation for vessels transiting through this vital shipping lane,” the statement added.
The latest developments come after HMS Montrose was involved in an incident with Iranian ships last week, during which she was forced to intervene in the attempted seizure of a British oil tanker.
Britain is "not seeking to escalate the situation with Iran," said UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt after the deployment was announced.
"None of us are looking for a conflict. And we all have a responsibility to protect shipping, this is a time for cool heads," he said in a press briefing Friday.
"We want to do everything we can to make sure that we don't have an unintended escalation which could be very dangerous to the world," Hunt added.
The decision to raise the threat level comes as Iran has threatened to retaliate against the UK after British Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar last week.
The UK said the tanker was seized because it was in violation of EU sanctions against shipping oil to a port in Syria, which is where the UK said the Iranian tanker was heading.
Iran has denied the tanker was going to Syria and has promised the UK of “consequences” for its actions.