Over seven million tonnes of British shipping – the equivalent of around 20 wartime convoys – have been guided safely through the Strait of Hormuz by the Royal Navy.
HMS Montrose, her sister frigate HMS Kent and destroyers HM Ships Duncan and Defender – have accompanied British flagged and registered merchant ships in and out of the Gulf amid tensions with Iran.
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.
“We are a close-knit team and I am extremely proud of what my sailors have achieved over the last few months,” said Commander Andrew Brown, HMS Kent’s Commanding Officer.
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.
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.