A ceremony has been held to mark the start of construction on a new permanent Royal Navy base in the Persian Gulf. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond along with sailors from the Royal Navy minehunter HMS Bangor and support ship RFA Cardigan Bay, attended the ceremony at Mina Salman Port, Bahrain. Once operational the facility, which has been christened HMS Juffair, will be able to support continued Royal Navy deployments in the Gulf region.
Mr Hammond told the sailors and guests;
The beginning of construction work at Mina Salman Port marks a watershed moment in the UK’s commitment to the region. The presence of the Royal Navy in Bahrain is guaranteed into the future, ensuring Britain’s sustained presence east of Suez. The new facility will enable Britain to work with our allies to reinforce stability in the Gulf and beyond.
However, back in the UK the news has been met with some opposition particularly from human rights groups. A number of questions over human rights abuses in Bahrain remain unanswered and there are claims that Britain is ignoring this fact in order to establish the naval base. There are also concerns that the base may draw Britain deeper in to the growing confrontation between Bahrain and supposedly Iranian-backed extremist groups attempting to topple the Bahrain government.