MOD update on the UK military presence in the Gulf

The UK has a long-standing maritime presence in the region.

Operation KIPION

The UK has a long-standing maritime presence in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Since 1980, units of both the Royal Navy (RN) and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) have maintained a presence in the Gulf 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Operation KIPION, the operational name for UK forces (principally maritime) in the region, is our commitment to promoting peace and stability as well as ensuring the safe flow of trade, and countering narcotics and piracy.
We have approximately 1,200 UK personnel deployed and are committed to de-escalation in the Gulf and maintaining free navigation through the region.
The UK regularly reviews the number of RN and RFA vessels in the region. While there is occasional overlap of ships when one deployment begins and another ends, this is not uncommon. These long-planned movements do not reflect an escalation in the UK posture in the region and are routine Op KIPION deployments.
There are 7 RN and RFA vessels, with embarked Royal Marines for force protection, currently deployed to Op KIPION:
1 x Type 23 Frigate

  • HMS MONTROSE. The ship is due to undertake pre-planned maintenance and crew change during which she will be replaced by HMS DUNCAN.

1 x Type 45

  • HMS DUNCAN is transiting to the region to ensure we maintain a continuous maritime security presence while HMS MONTROSE comes off task.

4 x Mine Counter Measures Vessels


1 x Landing ships Docking Auxiliary (LSDA) – Mine Counter Measures Support Ship

  • RFA Cardigan Bay

Future routine deployments to Op KIPION include:

  • RFA WAVE KNIGHT will join OP KIPION tasking at the start of August as part of a long planned deployment to Op KIPION in the role of KIPION Ready Tanker.
  • With a ship’s company of around 70 RFA personnel, RFA WAVE KNIGHT’s role is to deliver food, fuel, water and other essential supplies to RN and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) ships.


  • Later in the year, Type 23 Frigate HMS KENT will deploy to the Gulf taking over from HMS DUNCAN, ensuring an unbroken presence.

The maritime component is commanded by Commodore Dean Bassett out of the United Kingdom Maritime Component Command in Bahrain. Cdre Bassett is also the Deputy Commander of the US-led Combined Maritime Force (see below).

Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)

The UK contributes to the 33-nation CMF that conducts Maritime Security Operations, counters terrorism and narcotics smuggling in maritime areas of responsibility; works with regional and other partners to improve overall security and stability; helps strengthen regional nations’ maritime capabilities; and, when requested, responds to environmental and humanitarian crises.

UK Maritime Trade Operations (MTO)

UKMTO, a Royal Navy capability, is an information conduit between military and security forces and the wider international maritime trade. UKMTO delivers timely maritime security information, often acting as the primary point of contact for merchant vessels involved in maritime incidents or traveling within an area of high risk.

Images released by the US Department of Defense, which claim to show Iranian personnel.
Images released by the US Department of Defense, which claim to show Iranian personnel.

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