The Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil flows through, is of great importance to all major nations. It has also become the centre of conflict since May as Iran has been accused of sinking four oil tankers and seizing a British vessel in the region. This is not the first time, however, that the Strait has been involved in similar warfare – as last week’s events evoke memories of the so-called ‘Tanker War’ in the Eighties.
The Iraqi air force also pummelled Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf, who were exporting 2.6 billion barrels of oil per day.
Tehran responded by targeting Iraqi ships, and downed 168 vessels while losing 280 of their own.
After US supervision began, direct attacks stopped – but it meant Iran started to use deadly mines in 1987.
Much like the May and June attacks – which the US blames on Iran, albeit with little evidence – mines were used to down unsuspecting ships.
The psychological impact of the mines means that Iran still uses them today, according to Dave DesRoches, a defence expert.
He said: “Iran’s strategy at sea particularly is based on disruption.
“They know they can’t dominate. They have to disrupt.”
Washington officials fear that, should tensions continue to rise between Iran and the Western world, the Strait of Hormuz could be blocked in a similar way.
In 1988, Operation Praying Mantis represented a short but brutal conflict between the US and Iran after a mine struck an American ship.
Months later, a US warship shot down a commercial jetliner, killing all 290 Iranian civilians on board.
Experts such as Dr Paul Stott suggested that any upcoming conflict may resemble the one-day battle in 1988.
He told Express.co.uk: “The precedent here is the one-day war in 1988, when the US and Iran had a naval conflict for a single day.
“You could have a repeat of that now.
“The US, after quickly sinking ships, clearly showed their teeth and the Iranians backed down quickly.”
This time around, an attack from US President Donald Trump could be backed up by Britain – now led by the President’s ally Boris Johnson.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attempted to quell tensions with the new Prime Minister yesterday by encouraging diplomacy between Tehran and Westminster – but claimed Iran was ready to defend itself.
He said: “I congratulate my former counterpart, Boris Johnson on becoming UK Prime Minister.
“Iran does not seek confrontation but we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters and we will protect them.”