Global importance of Royal Navy shown by ‘Guardians of the Gulf’
HMS Montrose, HMS Kent, HMS Duncan and HMS Defender have now accompanied more than seven million tonnes of British shipping through the Strait of Hormuz
The Royal Navy has been dubbed “The Guardian of the Gulf” for its daily and ongoing mission to protect shipping from the threat posed by Iran – and this demonstrates how vital the Senior Service is to the UK and the world.
That’s the view of Commander Tom Trent, commanding officer of Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan, which has just returned to its homebase in Portsmouth after a stint in the Strait of Hormuz.
More than seven million tonnes of British shipping – the equivalent of around 20 wartime convoys – has now been guided safely through the narrow chokepoint by the Royal Navy.
Plymouth-based HMS Montrose and her sister Type 23 frigate HMS Kent, and Portsmouth-based Type 24 destroyers HMS Duncan and HMS Defender – have accompanied British flagged and registered merchant ships in and out of the Gulf amid tensions with Iran.
A Royal Navy spokesperson said: “Grateful seafarers have labelled the Royal Navy vessels ‘Guardians of the Gulf’ for their efforts providing protection in the narrow waters separating Iran on the north shore and Oman and the UAE since the beginning of July.
“The warships, plus their helicopters, have been used to accompany and watch over merchant shipping to ensure they can pass into and out of the Gulf safely, keeping international trade – especially oil and natural gas – flowing in the face of threats.
“Most recently HMS Kent has borne the burden of patrols, spending three weeks in the strait, providing safe passage for in excess of 800,000 tonnes of shipping.”
HMS Kent’s Commanding Officer, Commander Andrew Brown, said: “We are a close-knit team and I am extremely proud of what my sailors have achieved over the last few months.”
The ship uses her Wildcat helicopter to scour hundreds of square miles of the Gulf for any signs of danger – merchant shipping needs accompanying through an area twice the size of Wales.
“Controlling our helicopter in such a busy area of the world can at times be extremely stressful,” said Leading Aircraft Controller Lewis Jackson. “The constant training we receive enables us to do our job in a calm and safe manner and at an extremely professional level.”
Beyond the physical and mental challenges of the escort mission, the 200-plus sailors and Royal Marines aboard the warships are still contending with demanding temperatures – in the high 30s Celsius by day – even at the end of September.
Photos of Royal Navy Guardians of the Gulf HMS KentVIEW GALLERY
HMS Duncan, which returned to Portsmouth at the weekend, made 29 runs through the Strait, watching over 1,287,209 tonnes of merchant shipping.
Commander Tom Trent said his ship’s company found the mission challenging but also “very rewarding. We had emails from the ships we helped thanking us for getting them through safely.
“Protecting shipping is what the Royal Navy has done for hundreds of years. The whole operation is a reminder of how critical the Royal Navy is.”
Operations in the Strait of Hormuz to protect British shipping continues on a daily basis.