The UK is stepping up its military presence in the Gulf by sending a second warship to the region to protect British commercial oil tankers, the Ministry of Defence has said.
The HMS Duncan, a Type 45 destroyer, will be deployed within days after it completed a course of Nato exercises in the Baltic Sea with the aim to be in the Gulf region by next week.
The ship will work alongside the Royal Navy’s frigate HMS Montrose and US Gulf allies, but will not participate in Washington’s proposed global maritime coalition to protect shipping in the area.
HMS Duncan was due to have taken over from HMS Montrose, but for a fixed period the two ships will instead work alongside one another.
The news comes after Theresa May said she would begin talks with US authorities on increasing a transatlantic presence in the region following two sets of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and an attempt by Iranian navy to push a British owned oil ship towards Iranian waters.
The UK already has four mine-hunting vessels stationed in the region, and former naval commanders, including Admiral Lord West, have warned the UK only has eight frigates on patrol.
West’s fears have been echoed by Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, who has renewed his call for UK spending on defence to double.
Hunt said the UK was not seeking to escalate the crisis with Iran and that it was a time for cool heads. “We take maritime security very seriously. It is our primary responsibility to protect British shipping. This is a situation that is changing every hour, but we are reacting to what is happening in a clear and very measured way,” he added. Read more