The United Kingdom is deploying a contingent of Royal Marines to protect their warships in the Persian Gulf as tensions rise between the United States and Iran.
Using speedboats and helicopters to protect Royal Navy warships and U.K. merchant vessels, 100 Marines will form Special Purpose Task Group 19 and patrol the region from Britain’s new naval base in Bahrain, according to The Sunday Times.
The Royal Marines, which served as the model for the U.S. Marine Corps when it was created in 1775, are organized into smaller light infantry units than their American cousin.
The deployment comes after two oil tankers were attacked Thursday, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the explosions on the day of the attack, saying, “This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff also said Sunday, “There’s no question that Iran is behind the attacks. I think the evidence is very strong and compelling. In fact, I think this was a class-A screw-up by Iran to insert a mine on the ship; it didn’t detonate, they had to go back and retrieve it. I can imagine there are some Iranian heads rolling for that botched operation.”
Iran has adamantly denied any involvement in the attacks.