HMS Albion has continued her deployment to the Far East with a visit to Brunei, a key British ally in the region and home to Britain’s main military contingent in the Asia-Pacific.
The arrival in the commercial port of Muara on Saturday afternoon was met with much fanfare by locals including a performance by the Royal Brunei Navy band. Albion’s embarked Royal Marine Commandos however missed the jovial arrival having been offloaded by landing craft prior to its arrival in port to commence a week of intense jungle training.
This training at the British Army Jungle Warfare School will likely see them linking up with forces from Britain’s Brunei garrison. Under longstanding defence arrangements, the British Army maintains a forward deployed Gurkha light infantry battalion along with supporting elements including an Army Air Corps flight to support the defence of Brunei while undertaking specialised jungle training.
This force also serves as a readily acclimatised military asset for the Far East available for rapid deployment to support British interests in the region, as was seen in their involvement in the Australian-led intervention into East Timor.
HMS Albion has already completed a successful port call to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta since arriving in the area, the first visit by a British warship to that nation in nearly seven years and will be hoping to keep that pattern going as it continues its tour of the region.
Speaking in Jakarta prior to their departure for Brunei HMS Albion’s commanding officer, Captain Tim Neild, described the role of his deployment to “work with the UK’s partners to promote peace, security and prosperity in a region that is growing in strategic significance.”
From Brunei HMS Albion will continue heading north towards Japan and the Korean peninsula where it will look to join the work already being undertaken by the frigate HMS Sutherland. Britain’s unprecedented year of naval commitment to the Far East will then be followed up in coming months by HMS Argyll which will arrive later in the year for naval exercises under the auspices of the Five Powers Defence Arrangements.