The UK and US navies will work together on an international maritime mission to assure the security of merchant vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.
The mission will draw on assets in the region to increase inter-state maritime cooperation and improve coordination between different countries’ militaries and commercial shipping.
While operational details are being determined, the UK has offered to lead one of the mission’s task groups, the government announced.
“Events in the Gulf over the last four months, including attacks on four tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and the illegal seizure of the British-flagged oil tanker have seen the threat to commercial shipping rise,” the UK government said.
Defence secretary, Ben Wallace said: “The UK is determined to ensure her shipping is protected from unlawful threats and for that reason we have today joined the new maritime security mission in the Gulf.
“Upholding international maritime law and freedom of passage is in all our interests. We are seeing, across our seas and oceans, too many incidents that seek to challenge such freedoms.”
Last week, the UK government announced it had sent a second naval ship, HMS Duncan, to the region to join the HMS Montrose in accompanying British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz.
Meanwhile, the US Maritime Administration issued advice to US-flagged commercial vessels to send transit plans for the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf waters to both US and UK naval authorities.
"Heightened military activity and increased political tensions in this region continue to pose serious threats to commercial vessels," it said.
Last week, military representatives met to discuss how to safeguard shipping in the region at an international conference in Bahrain.
The discussions were held in response to the seizure of a British-flagged tanker, Stena Impero, on the Strait by Iran in July. Iranian state news said the seizure was due to a collision with a fishing boat.
Stena Bulk, owners of the tanker, said there was no evidence of a collision.
Earlier in the month, UK Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar which was suspected of carrying oil to Syria.
Meanwhile, Cruise operator P&O has announced it has cancelled cruises around Dubai and the Arabian Gulf following tensions in the region.