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Strait talking from Royal Navy as it patrols the ‘gateway to the Gulf’

31 May 2023
Royal Navy warships have focused efforts safeguarding shipping passing through the ‘gateway to the Gulf’.

Frigate HMS Lancaster, support vessel RFA Cardigan Bay and minehunters HMS Bangor, Chiddingfold and Middleton have been committed in the southern Gulf and Strait of Hormuz alongside the UK’s allies in the region to enhance the security and safe passage of merchant shipping.

The narrow entrance to/exit from the Gulf is one of the world’s most important seafaring ‘choke points’ – global trade would be severely affected if the safe passage of shipping is threatened.

Between 60 and 70 large merchant ships travel through the Strait of Hormuz daily – as well as countless smaller vessels; on a typical weekday there are at least 1,800 ships at sea between the shores of Qatar in the west and the Gulf of Oman to the east.

After recent efforts in Sudan and drug-busting in the Indian Ocean, Lancaster has most recently been patrolling the strait acting as a reassuring presence to passing tankers, natural gas transporters, cargo and container ships.

The Royal Navy’s senior commander in the Middle East witnessed the international operation for himself from the USS Paul Hamilton.

The US Navy destroyer embarked the senior US, French and British naval commanders in the Middle East – US Fifth Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Slaars and Commodore Philip Dennis, UK Maritime Component Commander, who’s normally based in Bahrain.

HMS Bangor has been conducting operations in the Gulf for over 18 months. Our sailors are highly skilled, efficient and experienced - allowing them to work effectively alongside Gulf Nations to provide security in the region.

Lieutenant Commander Chris Chew

Lancaster and the Paul Hamilton passed each other on patrol, demonstrating the commitment to a unified approach to keeping the crucial waterway open.

“Ships under my command regularly patrol the vital waters of the Gulf and Indian Ocean to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to freedom of navigation, maritime security, and the free flow of trade. I was delighted to join my US and French Naval counterparts in demonstrating this commitment,” Commodore Dennis said.

Work in and around the strait is part of the UK’s wider mission across the Middle East, promoting peace and stability, as well as supporting the free flow of commerce, Operation Kipion.

HMS Bangor and support ship RFA Cardigan Bay, plus the Royal Navy’s new robot minehunting boat Harrier, were joined by American minehunter USS Gladiator for combined training, chiefly to test their ability to keep fast-attack craft at bay – with Cardigan Bay’s boats posing the ‘threat’.

“Exercises such as this are an excellent opportunity for improving coordination and sharing skills with other nations. These partnerships are essential as we carry out Maritime Security Operations within the Gulf; supporting freedom of navigation and maintaining sea lines of communication,” said Lieutenant Commander Chris Chew, HMS Bangor’s Commanding Officer.

“HMS Bangor has been conducting operations in the Gulf for over 18 months. Our sailors are highly skilled, efficient and experienced - allowing them to work effectively alongside Gulf Nations to provide security in the region.”

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