Britain has expanded its permanent presence in the Gulf with the opening of the United Kingdom Naval Support Facility at a ceremony at Mina Salman port in Bahrain.

The Naval Support Facility will play a central role in the UK’s ability to operate in the region say the MoD, and will be the hub of the Royal Navy’s operations in the Gulf, Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

Gavin Williamson Defence Secretary said:

“Our Armed Forces are the face of Global Britain and our presence in Bahrain will play a vital role in keeping Britain safe as well as underpinning security in the Gulf.

Britain is a major player on the world stage and this new Naval Support Facility will help us tackle the growing threats to our nation wherever they are across the globe and protecting our way of life.”

According to a release:

“The facility will provide an enduring, self-sufficient operating base capable of meeting the needs of any British warship operating in the region including Britain’s new aircraft carriers future flagships HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. It will be home to just over 300 British military personnel and supporting civilians, and accommodates up to nearly 550 for short periods. The facility will also provide a key strategic base east of Suez for Britain, its allies and coalition partners.

The ceremony was attended by General Sir Chris Deverell Commander of the UK’s Joint Forces Command, Commodore Steve Dainton United Kingdom Maritime Component Commander (UKMCC) and Prince Andrew Duke of York as well as HRH Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Field Marshal Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Commander in Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force.”

Speaking at Mina Salman port, General Sir Chris Deverell Commander Joint Forces Command said:

“With the opening of this base, the UK’s presence in Bahrain and the wider Gulf is guaranteed into the future, ensuring Britain’s sustained deployment east of Suez. In meeting HRH Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa today, I thanked him for the continued support from Bahrain which enables us to operate in the Gulf region.”

24 COMMENTS

  1. Although forward basing is vital to provide a global reach I wonder if in fact the RN is now too small to really take advantage of a major base overseas? we probably should be withdrawing all vessels east of Suez in order to help secure and safeguard our own EEZ, and NATO area of operations.
    Only when HMG gets serious about defence capability and rebuilds the RN to a force where we have adequate ships for home defence, carrier strike groups, amphibious warfare etc should we then deploy east of Suez.
    Over to you HMG- get building and get the ships built now- we clearly need them.

    • My take is that this small base is more symbolic than serious. I don’t think it will host any big show of a return to East of Suez. I remember the days when Tory MP’s were bemoaning the fact that there were only 2 Carriers left East of Suez!! It provides moral support for an important ally and trading partner and a base that can be reinforced fairly quickly in the event of looming problems

    • Trust me when I say Dilly was not there.
      Cardigan bay, a Bahrain Frigate, UK Minehunters, US Patrol Boats, US Minehunters and USNS Aux vessels are the only vessels in Mina at present.

  2. Having 300 personnel, up 500 at times, supporting a regular group of 5 ships is more than symbolic. The RN is hugely capable in terms of mine countermeasures, more so than the vast majority of navies.
    It is an important contribution we can make to allied efforts in that region.

    • Correct Jack. Significant. We have important interests and friends in the region. These are rightly worried by the new developments vis-a-vis Iran, Russia and now N.A.T.O. ally (!) Turkey. If the west keeps running, they’ll keep chasing.

    • Concur. The U.S. will have difficulty increasing to 350 ships by mid-century & Minesweepers will be last on the list (nobody makes Admiral from that community).

    • Jack Barry John-hope you are all correct but inclined to agree with Mr Bell that sadly the RN is not really able to host a significant force there on a full time basis. That is not to detract from your valid comments regarding the MCM presence. Maybe the 80 bn barrel find though,will have some positive effects that rub off on our Defence budget indirectly!

  3. Just in time for their huge oil and gas dicovery, quite convenient.

    I’m sure we can look foward to both carriers visiting and perhaps they will need some type 31s to guard all those newly discovered and massive offshore resources.

    Wonder if we could sell a qe2 to some country in the area.

  4. No UK Carrier will visit the base anytime soon. The waters are not deep enough unless some serious dredging is done. As of now all carriers of all nationalities go to Mina Khalifa port instead.
    Mina Salman can take a USS America Class boats alongside …it had a French Mistral there a few weeks ago but that’s as big as it gets.

  5. It might be a coincidence but all the VIPs turned up to open the Base, flying in from wherever, on the same week that the Bahrain GP is on…

  6. Extra, Extra, Royal Navy loses track of Diego Garcia. Unfortunately, the RN increased the classification level of Diego Garcia beyond that of any existing Captain or Deck Officer. Thus only Amazon knows where it is any longer?

  7. Cyprus
    Ascension
    Falklands
    Bahrain
    Singapore
    Brunei
    Belize
    Not too bad for global reach.
    Ships and aircraft worldwide quietly going about their business.
    Forward deployments in the Baltic’s
    SAIF SAREERA III at the end of the year
    Could be worse

    • Gibraltar!

      Cyprus, Ascension, Falklands and Gibraltar all critical Joint Operating Bases, have in place communications infrastructure ( DHFRS ), Sigint, or have port or airfield for rapid deployment of the JRRF.

      Legacy of Empire yes but useful assets to have.

      Cyprus with its close proximity to the Middle East, with Akrotiri, Ayios Nikolios and Troodos being the most important of all in my view.

  8. In the 1970s when setting up a Forward Operating Base in Jebel Ali in the UAE for RN MCMVs as part of Operation Cimnel my team spent a great deal of effort on physical protection of the site. It was No1 priority.
    Things have moved on. Now we need to consider Supply Chain security protection as a very necessary element of Base protection. It is no good if traders are able to cyber attack with impunity.
    I do hope this new base is properly protected from all potential types of attack ( physical and digital).

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