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Work to start on new UK naval base in Bahrain

MANAMA, June 7, 2015

Work is due to start on a new British naval base in Bahrain that aims to deter regional threats and maintain security in the Gulf and wider region.

UK Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond signed a memorandum of understanding with Bahrain's government in December to set up a permanent naval base here, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

It is expected to accommodate Britain's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and Type 45 destroyers.

"Work on the first permanent British base in the region since 1971 is scheduled to start later in the summer," outgoing British Ambassador Iain Lindsay told the GDN.

"The plan is that we should start the building work on the new base and the BDF will be in charge of this.

"We are hoping that work starts later in the summer with a view of opening the base towards the end of next year - that's the aspiration."

Lindsay said the base would add to the UK's already strong defence presence in the region, with military assets including Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado aircraft, a remotely-piloted air system, Hercules transport aircraft, air-to-air refuelling and surveillance aircraft.

He said that around 800 UK personnel were supporting Operation Shader, which is the code name for Britain's participation in the fight against the terrorist group Islamic State (IS), launched in August last year.

"We have substantial footprint in the region," said Lindsay, who was speaking during a meeting held last week to discuss efforts by an international coalition to combat IS.

"At any one point we have 1,650 military personnel in the Gulf, Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates, four minesweepers, eight Tornado aircraft and three Merlin helicopters."

Upgrade

A report in British national newspaper The Telegraph on December 4 last year stated that the new UK base in Bahrain would cost BD8.6m ($22.6 million) and would be an upgrade of the facilities currently used by the four British minehunters working in the Gulf.

It will enable sailors to be based permanently in Bahrain along with their families and massively expand the capabilities of the Mina Salman port, where the minehunters are based, according to the report.

Last month, HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, met Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, at the Defence Ministry in Whitehall, London.

During the meeting, the Crown Prince stressed how the new UK naval base would further bolster bilateral relations and strengthen co-operation to address regional threats. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Lindsay |

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