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UK to send second Type 23 frigate HMS Kent to Gulf

The United Kingdom will send a second Type 23 frigate, the HMS Kent, to the Persian Gulf this autumn, the Royal Navy said on Tuesday.

Kent will deploy to the Gulf later this year to take over from HMS Duncan, which is currently on its way to join the Type 45 destroyer HMS Montrose, the Navy said on July 16.

The Royal Navy said last week that it dispatched HMS Duncan to temporarily join HMS Montrose in the Gulf “to ensure we maintain a continuous maritime security presence while HMS Montrose comes off task for pre-planned maintenance and crew change over.”

Montrose, a Type 23 frigate, is stationed in Bahrain until 2022 to spare other British warships the trip to and from the United Kingdom and ensure a permanent presence in the region.

Duncan’s rotation has been moved forward by a number of days, AFP reported a U.K. government source as saying.

Also on Tuesday, the Royal Navy said it tested Thales’ Lightweight Multirole Missile – also known as Martlet – against a speedboat target, noting “recent incidents where both merchant and military shipping have been attacked by manned and unmanned surface and air systems armed with explosive devices, underlined the risks faced by Royal Navy units deployed in danger zones.”

The announcement comes less than a fortnight after the Royal Marines tested a shoulder-fired variant of the same missile against a drone target.

In addition to HMS Montrose and Duncan, there are now five other Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels committed to the region: the Mine Counter Measures Vessels HMS Ledbury, HMS Blyth, HMS Brocklesby and HMS Shoreham, and Landing Ship Dock Auxiliary RFA Cardigan Bay.

The tanker RFA Wave Knight will also undertake operations in the region at the start of August as part of her long-planned deployment to the Middle East, the Royal Navy said. Wave Knight’s role is to deliver food, fuel, water and other essential supplies to ships of the Royal Navy and U.K. allies.

The deployments are part of Operation Kipion, the U.K.’s long-standing maritime military presence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.

HMS Montrose was trailing the merchant tanker British Heritage last week when three boats believed by the U.K. government to be Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels, tried to stop the tanker as it was entering the Strait of Hormuz from the Gulf.

The incident came days after officials in Gibraltar seized an Iranian tanker possibly carrying oil to Syria. Four of the tanker’s officers, all Iranian nationals, were arrested and later released.

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