The United Kingdom opened a permanent naval base in Bahrain on Thursday.
The ceremony formally opening the UK Naval Support Facility was attended by Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Britain’s Prince Andrew.
The Naval Support Facility will play a central role in the UK’s ability to operate in the region, and will be the hub of the Royal Navy’s operations in the Gulf, Red Sea and Indian Ocean. It also puts the UK close to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain.
Gavin Williamson, UK Defense 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.”
Britain first announced in 2014 that it had sealed a deal to expand and reinforce its naval presence in Bahrain, allowing it to operate more and bigger ships in the Gulf. Bahrain is a close ally of Britain, the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The new self-sufficient naval base will be 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.
by John Konrad