A PORTSMOUTH-BASED Royal Navy warship has been redirected from the Pacific to to protect ships passing through the Gulf.
Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender sailed from Portsmouth on Monday August 12 alongside Type 23 frigate HMS Kent, which was originally headed for the waters off the coast of Iran.
Both warships are now set to provide security for ships passing through the Straits of Hurmouz, which has seen Iranian forces seize three foreign tankers over the last two months.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘Wherever the red ensign flies around the world, the UK stands by to protect freedom of navigation whenever is it tested.
‘The men and women of HMS Defender will contribute to the IMSC alongside international partners.’
Both Defender and Kent will work alongside international partners as part of the newly-formed International Maritime Security Construct.
The two ships will join HMS Montrose, a Type 23 frigate, and relive £1bn destroyer HMS Duncan.
Commander Richard Hewitt, the Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, said: ‘We always stand ready to take on new missions at short notice, wherever in the world they may be.
‘My ship’s company will work on this new mission with their usual professionalism and dedication, supported by our families back home.
‘Ensuring freedom of navigation in the Middle East is vital to the prosperity of the UK and our allies. I’m pleased HMS Defender will play her part alongside other Royal Navy warships in keeping these essential trade routes secure.’
For almost 40 years both the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary have maintained a constant presence in the Gulf.