The UK is sending its most powerful naval vessel to the Gulf to counter
any potential Iranian attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz, the Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
The ship, a Type 45 destroyer named HMS Daring, will depart from
Portsmouth on Wednesday and is set to arrive in the Gulf by the end of
January. It is capable of shooting down "any missile in Iran's armory," according to the Telegraph.
The report came just two days after Defense Secretary
Philip Hammond declared that his country would take military action
against Iran if it carries out its threat to block the Strait of Hormuz.
While on a visit in Washington DC. Hammond warned that any attempt by
Iran to close the Strait would be "illegal and unsuccessful", adding
that the Royal Navy would participate in efforts to ensure the free flow
of traffic in the waterway.
West readies oil plan in case of Iran crisis
joint naval presence in the Arabian Gulf, something our regional
partners appreciate, is key to keeping the Straits of Hormuz open for
international trade,” Hammond stated.
“Disruption to the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz would
threaten regional and global economic growth,” he said, arguing that “it
is in all our interests that the arteries of global trade are kept
free, open and running.”
UK ship being sent to the Gulf carries the world's most sophisticated naval radar, capable of
tracking multiple incoming threats from missiles to fighter jets, the Telegraph
reported. The 8,000 ton destroyer will carry 48 Sea Viper anti-air
missile systems, capable of intercepting fighters as well as
sea-skimming missiles. It will also host a
Lynx helicopter capable of carrying Sea Skua anti-ship missiles,
according to the Telegraph
The British daily cited UK Naval commanders who said that the ship's deployment will send a significant message to the Iranians because of its firepower and "world-beating" technology.
A British Ministry of Defense spokesman was quoted by the Telegraph
as saying that "while the newly operational Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring is more capable than earlier ships, her deployment East of Suez has been long planned, is entirely routine and replaces a frigate on station."
In late December, Iran threatened to block the strait if sanctions are imposed on its crude-oil exports. Europe
and the United States have stepped up sanctions
the Islamic republic in recent weeks in an attempt to force it to abandon its nuclear program.
The Western action has already hit Iran's rial currency, which
fell by 40 percent against the dollar in the past month. It recently recovered
20% of its value through intervention by Iran's Central Bank.
Western powers are discussing other contingency plans for a potential Iranian closure of the strait, including one to tap a record volume of oil from emergency stockpiles to replace what would be lost if in case of an Iranian closure. It is estimated that the proposal, which would release up to 14 million barrels per day (bpd) of
government-owned oil stored in the United States, Europe, Japan and
other importers, could be sustained during the first month of any coordinated action.
Iran recently concluded a ten-day naval drill,
during which it test fired two long-range missiles. Iran said that it
was using the test to display its resolve in countering any attack by
enemies such as Israel or the United States. Revolutionary Guards Corps will hold new naval exercises
in the Strait of Hormuz in February, an Iranian military commander was quoted as saying.
Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this article