UK is sending a second warship to the Gulf amid Iranian threats to oil tankers and Mersey Maritime CEO Chris Shirling-Rooke, is urging the MoD to invest more in its naval capability. Tony McDonough reports
A leading figure in Liverpool city region’s £4bn powerhouse maritime sector is urging the UK Government to invest more in the Royal Navy amid the stand-off with Iran in the Middle East.
At the weekend it was revealed the UK was sending a second warship to the region to protect British commercial oil tankers. HMS Duncan, a Type 45 destroyer, will join frigate HMS Montrose amid threats by Iran to seize a British oil tanker in retaliation for the seizure of an Iranian vessel destined for Syria.
There have been concerns that the Royal Navy will be unable to offer full protection in the Gulf and Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of industry body Mersey Maritime, says the crisis highlights the need for the Ministry of Defence to invest in our future naval capability.
Mersey Maritime member, shipyard and engineering firm Cammell Laird has teamed up with BAE Systems to bid for the contract to build the next generation of Type 31e frigates. The five vessels will cost £1.25bn each.
Mr Shirling-Rooke said: “Mersey Maritime is proud to partner with the Royal Navy in our strategic relationships across the maritime sector in the Liverpool city region and beyond.
“While many of our members won’t be directly affected by the events of recent weeks in the Gulf, for us the message is clear – investment in the Royal Navy and its capability is essential for the future security and well being of our country.
“The commercial interests of the UK abroad must be safeguarded, vividly illustrated by the intervention of HMS Montrose in the Strait of Hormuz. With almost 5% of UK oil and 13% of UK gas moving through these straits, the strategic importance of our presence there is plain for all to see.
“While not decrying the recent intervention of HMS Montrose in any way, her involvement illustrates the pressing need for ongoing and extensive investment in our fleet. Originally designed with a service life of around 18 years, this RN Type 23 Frigate and her sister ships, are expected to serve for around 30 years having undergone life extension refits.
“Our defence and commercial needs don’t come cheap. As a proud maritime nation, it is time to put our money where our mouth is as a country and ensure our investment in the Royal Navy is protected and increased in the years ahead.”