Ensuring safe passage in the Gulf
At least 650 merchant ships sailing through Middle East hot spots owe their safety and security to HMS Montrose
The British frigate has completed 100 days on Operation Sentinel — an international mission providing reassurance and protection to thousands of cargo transporters, oil and gas tankers passing in and out of the Gulf region.
If this flow stops it will impact on everyone in the UK and around the world. The hard work of the Royal Navy in the Gulf allows families all over the UK to have gas and petrol.
“When we act as a sentinel we are the guard dog on the Strait of Hormuz, deterring illegal activity and hostile acts so that everyone can benefit from the trade in this region“ — Lt Cdr Martyn Harris, HMS Montrose
Op Sentinel is run by the eight-nation International Maritime Security Construct from Bahrain, which originally focused on safe passage through the Strait of Hormuz, the gateway to the Gulf.
One-sixth of the world’s oil and a third of its liquefied natural gas pass through Hormuz.
Ensuring the free flow of international commerce is the Royal Navy’s top priority and they do this through the three tenets of our mission: vigilance, surveillance, and assurance.
The operation’s domain has since expanded to cover other ‘choke points’ or danger zones, notably the Bab-el-Mandeb narrows (aka ‘The BAM’) at the foot of the Red Sea and an invisible highway through the Gulf of Aden, the International Recognised Transit Corridor (previous known as ‘Pirate Alley’) which merchant ships are encouraged to use and receive protection and assistance from warships.
The BAM is the gateway to Suez, the Mediterranean, Europe and ultimately the North Atlantic and the UK used by around 50 merchant ships every day.
Montrose acts as one of several ‘sentinels’ — larger warships — and smaller ‘sentries’ which, in connection with patrol aircraft and helicopters, build up a picture of life in the region, spot anything unusual and provide protection where necessary.
Her Sentinel duties have been concentrated entirely in the Strait of Hormuz. It’s a demanding, relentless task, daily, nightly, requiring Montrose to be at the very top of her game.
In her 100-plus days on Sentinel, Bahrain-based HMS Montrose has broadcast more than 1,300 radio messages assisting and guiding merchant sailors safely as well as accompanying vessels, including British minehunters, through the choke points on occasions.
Montrose has also joined the navies of the USA and Pakistan on Operation Sea Shield, in the Gulf of Oman looking for arms traffickers and drug smugglers.
And the frigate found time to conduct a range of training in between key operational tasks, such as combat-readiness drills for surface engagements and ongoing training with her Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron in Yeovilton, which is vital for providing intelligence and ‘top cover’ and supporting boarding operations.