Daily Archives: 10 January, 2012

HMS Daring deploys to the Gulf

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HMS Daring, the first Type 45 Destroyer, deploys to the Gulf tomorrow. She is due to pass the Round Tower at 12.30pm, according to QHM Portsmouth. Replacing the Devonport based Type 23 Frigate HMS Argyll, she will be responsible for patrolling the Persian Gulf. Tensions have been rising in recent weeks, after Iranian naval exercises in the vital straits of Hormuz. The deployment has been seen in some quarters as inflammatory, yet the MOD insists that the deployment has been long-planned. Hence it could hardly be called a ‘show of force’, as the Telegraph is describing it.

This is the first time that one of the Type 45 Destroyers has embarked on an active deployment, and will be keenly watched by many, in Britain and worldwide. As much as I have criticised the cost and small number of ships in the Daring Class, they are fantastic ships by all accounts. Their anti-air missile system, Sea Viper, is among the most advanced in the world, and the SAMPSON radar is phenomenally powerful. They should prove to be more than a match for anything that the Iranians could throw at her in terms of aircraft or anti-ship missiles. It is only in terms of her own anti-surface and anti-submarine capabilities that she is lacking. Mines might also be a concern, but there are considerable allied mine countermeasures forces in the Gulf, including HMS Ledbury who left Portsmouth yesterday.

Save The Royal Navy has highlighted a very amusing article in a nondescript website, that describes Daring as a ‘floating target’ for Iranian forces. Accompanied by a picture of a Batch 1 or 2 Type 42 Destroyer, the text is badly researched and in places laughable. The Iranian military might be increasingly large and belligerent, but their inventory is rather out of date.

The Straits of Hormuz are a critical choke point. The only maritime entrance to the Persian Gulf, a large amount of the world’s oil transits through the 34 mile wide straits – about 14 tankers pass through a day, carrying 15.5m barrells of crude oil. This represents 35% of the world’s seaborne oil shipments. Closure of the straits, or any significant problems, would starve the world of oil and create havoc on the global oil markets. During the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988 the US and British naval forces patrolled the Gulf, ensuring security for merchant vessels. The RN presence has continued ever since under the Armilla Patrol.

What the Royal Navy cannot afford is another incident like that that occured in 2007, when two RIB’s from HMS Cornwall were detained by Iranian patrol boats and the sailors and marines held captive by Tehran. Although it is difficult to argue with the fact that they could not have done much differently – shooting would have created a major international incident – it was bad seamanship to let themselves be captured in the first place. Although accusations of the Royal Navy ‘going soft’ are wide of the mark, pictures of sailors and marines being paraded in Tehran are hardly good for fighting reputation.

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