Two Royal Navy warships from Portsmouth to be permanently based in Asian waters as UK seeks to boost Pacific military presence
TWO Portsmouth-based warships are to be permanently deployed to Asia as Britain seeks to ramp up its military presence in the region, the defence secretary has revealed.
Ben Wallace unveiled the new deployment plan as he paid a visit to Japan, ahead of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth’s planned visit to Tokyo.
The two new offshore patrol ships, HMS Spey and HMS Tamar will set sail for their new home in the Indo-Pacific later this year.
The vessels’ deployment comes as the UK continues to deepen security ties with the Japanese, who have expressed growing alarm in recent months over China’s territorial ambitions in the region, including Taiwan.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace this week confirmed the UK’s carrier strike group will sail through disputed waters claimed by China during its trip to Japan later this summer.
‘Following on from the strike group's inaugural deployment, the United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year,’ Mr Wallace added in a joint announcement in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi.
The offshore patrol ships are among Britain’s newest warships, with HMS Spey commissioned into the fleet earlier this month.
‘The commissioning of Spey demonstrates a further development to the royal navy’s role in global Britain,’ Rear Admiral Simon Asquith said on Monday.
The commander of maritime operation said the warships will be deployed to the Indo-Pacific region ‘for the foreseeable future’.
He added: ‘Once deployed, they will work closely with allies and partners to support maritime security in the region.’
As well as operating in the region, the two vessels will also form part of a UK-led littoral response group set to be based in Asian waters in the coming years, the Ministry of Defence said.
They will be deployed at the end of August and will be supported by Australia, Japan and Singapore, among other partners, in their operations.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by two Type 45 destroyers, two frigates, two support ships and an American warship will also take part in drills with allies in the region.
It’s part of the £3.2bn warship’s maiden deployment to the Far East and back.