UK to raise Gulf naval presence


“Most significantly at the moment is the mine counter-measure vessels, and since November of last year we have maintained a permanent two-ship presence rather like the US Navy in their permanent presence,” he said.


“We will be improving and uplifting that presence next year, so you can expect to see more mine counter-measure vessels in the area.”


Winstanley said the boost in numbers was part of a programmed increase.

“There is nothing melodramatic or sinister in the uplift,” he said.

“The numbers will change and we will put some ships in the Indian Ocean to work with both the Indians and Pakistanis, so they are not all held in this area but they are able to come back to operate as part of the coalition should we require.”


Winstanley, speaking onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, added that strategic and economic interests had brought about a policy of engagement by Britain in the region.


“The UK maritime presence is enduring and part of the coalition and it’s in support of the freedom of navigation throughout the area,” he said.


Referring to the conflict in Iraq, Winstanley his country’s policy was to reduce its numbers gradually as the Iraqi forces complete their training and are able to carry out such tasks themselves.


The commodore’s comments came following mine counter-measure exercises for coalition forces in the Gulf, where US and British ships worked to locate and destroy fake mines using a host of air, sea, and underwater capabilities.

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