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Old 23-10-18, 07:11   #1
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Red Arrow WW.3 ALERT: Royal Navy Ships Confronted by Iran's Fast-Attack Gun Boats

World War 3 ALERT: Royal Navy Ships THREATENED by Iran's Fast-Attack Machine Gun Boats in the Gulf

A ROYAL NAVY type 45 Destroyer was threatened by three Iranian fast attack boats while escorting a trio of British vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, sparking fears of an imminent international attack.

The Telegraph / Express UK, 23 Oct 2018

A Royal navy type 45 Destroyer was threatened by three Iranian fast attack boats (Image: Getty)

HMS Dragon, which patrols the Eastern Mediterranean, was travelling through the Persian Gulf when Iran’s machine gun boats halted its course and demanded Dragon to remain 1000 yards clear of the port side.

The captain of the type 45 destroyer immediately ordered five blasts of the ship’s horn, which is the international warning sign.

The Officer of the Watch then radioed over to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards - the Span Navy - warning that its boats prevented the Destroyer from completing its journey....

The three Iranian Fast Attack Craft speed towards HMS Dragon from the port side, threatening to weave between the Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer and the trio of British vessels she is escorting through the Strait of Hormuz.

Although dwarfed by the British ships – HMS Dragon’s twin gas-turbine generators alone produce enough energy to power a city the size of Leicester - the Iranian speed boats could still cause significant damage if they attack, not to mention spark an international incident.

As they race over the water the Revolutionary Guards on board point film cameras towards the British to gauge their reaction. HMS Dragon’s Captain, Commander Mike Carter-Quinn, orders five deafening blasts of the ship’s horn - the international warning signal - as his crew don helmets and body armour and man the heavy machine guns.

The Officer of the Watch radios over to the Sapan Navy (the name for the naval element of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards) to warn its vessels have impeded the Destroyer’s passage and request they remain 1000 yards clear of the port side.

“For your information we are here to safeguard our national sovereignty and we are doing routine operations,” comes the reply from the Iranians.

The Telegraph reporter was on board

Such geo-political drama between Britain and Iran is a routine and almost daily occurrence on the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, one of the most strategic sections of water in the world.

Fortunately on this occasion the Iranians heed the British and eventually move aside.

According to Commander Carter-Quinn, the next steps would be firing flares and ultimately warning shots.

“You have to provide a robust response,” he says. “The day you don’t take it seriously is the day you become unstuck.”

The Royal Navy navigates a delicate diplomatic course through these choppy waters

“The contest between Iran and Saudi Arabia provides the backdrop to everything out here,” says Lieutenant Commander Richard Attwater, HMS Dragon’s second-in-command. “It’s a very volatile region. And we’re sailing 8,000 tonnes of Britain right through the middle of it.”

Britain has four Royal Navy Minehunters and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) logistics vessel permanently based in Bahrain. The principal mission of the Minehunters is to clear the route of Britain’s nuclear armed submarines from their base in Scotland to the North Atlantic. In recent years the fleet of 13 vessels has also been used to keep open the shipping lanes in the Gulf, through which one fifth of the world’s oil is carried.

The Iranians heed the British and eventually move aside

The area has been a flashpoint for decades and the politics of the region remains intricate and finely poised. Britain has friends here, more since America’s pivot to Asia has left many Gulf states questioning the US commitment to the region. But old enmities persist.

“Iran assumes the UK is behind everything that goes wrong for them,” says Professor Michael Clarke of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
“They use the Gulf as a tap to turn on the tension and indicate their degree of cooperation [with the international community].”

Britain’s contribution to the 33-nation Maritime Coalition Force based in Bahrain helps ensure safe passage from the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean. If the global supply chain was disrupted the effects would be felt rapidly.

Delivering world-leading mine survey, detection and destruction capabilities, the sonars on the Minehunters can distinguish objects as small as tin cans. Minehunter hulls are made of glass reinforced plastic instead of steel. It makes for quieter running and enables the crews to detect magnetic waves and acoustic pulses.

When a suspicious object has been identified the crew release an unmanned drone, Seafox, which can identify mines and place an explosive charge. The drone relays everything it sees back on board to assess whether the target is a mine, rock or piece of debris. Even in the Gulf it is not unusual to find a shopping trolley on the seabed.

British navy ships have been present in the Omani deep-water port of Duqm to take part in the maritime phase of Exercise Saif Sareea III, one of the largest international military exercises in the world.

Royal Navy Minehunter ships based in Bahrain

As part of Exercise Saif Sareea III 5,000 British military personnel join 65,000 Omani troops in practising desert warfare. Duqm port, the off-loading point, has 2km-long jetties abutting very deep water. Were Britain’s new aircraft carriers to be required to come this way in the future, Duqm is one of a very small number of places they could berth alongside.

The point is not lost on the Omanis. Outside the port, heading towards the month-old international airport on the traffic-free three-lane carriageway of Airport Road, wooden signs announce ‘education zone’ or ‘health zone’ to the empty expanse of rocky desert.
This place will never draw the tourists like Dubai - the regular south-west monsoon will see to that - but it seeks to draw huge investment and become an economic hub. China has already signed up.

For Britain’s part, the attractions of a military staging post such as Duqm are clear.

Here our navy ships can loiter with the capability to interdict shipping, raid ashore or provide humanitarian relief to a disaster zone.

This is the Royal Navy in 2018: on operations every day of the year, employing hard and soft power. It is not problem-free: tours at sea are generally longer than in the past to make best use of the limited number of personnel, and serviceability of fleet is a concern.

But there is also cause for optimism.

The Minehunters, 'Britain’s tupperware warriors', in the words of their commander, are the envy of the world. Maintaining trade routes in the face of regular provocation, they offer an example of how shared risk and enterprise can be mutually beneficial in an arena far from home.

Ensuring a naval commitment in the face of these dynamics is costly and dangerous.

But according to Commander Ashley Spencer, head of the Mine Counter Measures fleet: “We can’t afford not to.”



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