THE Royal Navy is to send £1bn destroyer HMS Daring to the Gulf as tensions rise with Iran in the region.
The Type 45 destroyer will leave Portsmouth on Wednesday for her first deployment, which the Ministry of Defence described as long-planned and ‘routine’.
But it comes after Iran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz - a major shipping route for 15 millions barrels of oil every day last year.
The Islamic Republic made the threat in retaliation to pressure from the US, Britain and France for a trade embargo on the export of Iranian oil.
Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, publicly warned Iran on Thursday that any blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be ‘illegal and unsuccessful’.
Daring, the first of six new navy destroyers, carries the world’s most sophisticated naval radar which is capable of tracking multiple incoming threats from missiles to fighter jets.
She is also capable of launching strikes on targets or take down incoming rockets with her Sea Viper missiles which, equipped with its own radar, can hit a target 100 miles away.
The warship and her 190-strong crew will sail through the Suez Canal and enter the Gulf later this month to replace HMS Argyll, the Type 23 frigate currently on station.
Lord West, the former First Sea Lord, described the Type 45 as a ‘world beater’, adding: ‘This warship has an unbelievably capable ability to track targets, spot the most dangerous and identify them for its missiles to take out. It’s highly, highly capable. I would like to see the Type 45s show their potential in the region.’
An MoD spokesman said: ‘While the newly operational Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring is more capable than earlier ships, her deployment East of Suez has been long planned, is entirely routine and replaces a frigate on station.’
Daring’s deployment comes after Iran completed a 10-day naval exercise in the sensitive waters near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, staging manoeuvres which included firing three anti-ship missiles.
On Friday, Tehran said another exercise would be held in the same area next month which will be ‘different’ from the last one. The new Iranian exercise will coincide with joint Israel and US missile tests which have been planned near the area.
More Royal Navy vessels could be sent to the Gulf if required. The second Type 45, HMS Dauntless, which is currently in Portsmouth, is understood to be available to sail at short notice.