Royal Navy joins new task force protecting Red Sea shipping

Photo: Royal Navy

Royal Navy ships and personnel have joined a new international task force to safeguard ships passing through what is regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous waterways.

The frigate HMS Montrose and the support ship RFA Lyme Bay have joined the US-led Combined Task Force 153 for a demonstration of naval might and unity in the Red Sea.

The task force is the fourth international naval group – numbered 150 through 153 – dedicated to security at sea from the Suez Canal to the Western Seaboard of the Indian sub-continent, from the shores of Iraq to those of the Seychelles. Operations will include those intended to prevent incidences of terrorism, piracy, and smuggling.
CTF-153’s focus is the Red Sea from the Suez Canal to the narrows of the Bab-el-Mandeb, one of the key straits on the world’s major shipping lanes.

Every 24 hours, around 50 large merchant ships pass through the BAM, as it’s known by many seafarers. Should the BAM become blocked or unsafe for merchant shipping, the impact on the UK alone – which relies on regular supplies of LNG from the Gulf for example – would be severe.

The BAM is just as much of a trade “choke point,” and passing shipping has been threatened on occasions by missile-armed rebels.

CTF-153 will be operating under the banner of the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Force, a coalition of nearly three dozen nations.

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