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The UK has maintained a permanent maritime presence in the Persian Gulf since 1980.

Initially the Armilla Patrol, in June 2011 that deployment evolved into Operation Kipion, which represents the Royal Navy’s current maritime security presence in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. With a broader remit, Operation Kipion is a combination of Royal Navy operations in the Middle East patrolling the Strait of Hormuz, and Suez Canal and conducting counter piracy operations in the Indian Ocean.

The aim of the operation is to promote peace and stability in the region, as well as ensuring the safe flow of oil and international trade.

At present there are 7 vessels of the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary assigned to the operation:

  • Type 45 HMS Defender
  • Type 23 HMS Montrose
  • Four minecountermeasures vessels of the Sandown and Hunt-class.
  • RFA Cardigan Bay.

At the beginning of August 2019 the MOD announced that the UK would join the US-led International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), a maritime coalition aimed at securing freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf of Oman. Operations under the framework of the IMSC formally began on 7 November 2019. 

On 4 January 2020 the Defence Secretary announced that Royal Navy vessels HMS Defender and HMS Montrose would deploy to the Strait of Hormuz to accompany British registered vessels through the Strait, amidst fear of reprisals for the death of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani in a US drone strike in early January. Those assets are already in the region as part of Operation Kipion and the IMSC and do not represent the deployment of additonal assets. 

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