Abu Dhabi: Five Royal Navy warships will launch a series of amphibious and land-based exercises — called Sea Khanjar — with the UAE armed forces this week. The military manoeuvres will continue until July 6.
The Royal Navy's Response Task Force Group, which is led by the HMS (His Majesty's Ship) Albion, the flagship of the Royal Navy, left the United Kingdom in early April heading East. Before anchoring in Abu Dhabi, it supported Nato operations off Libya and conducted similar maritime exercises in Muscat.
"We live in uncertain times at the moment and securing our sea and land communications are key to maritime protection," said Commodore Tim Fraser, Royal Navy's UK Maritime Component commander, told reporters who were invited on board the HMS Albion for a press briefing.
The UK-UAE naval training comes at a time when Iran is also conducting its own round of ground, naval and missile exercises.
"This exercise is not related to Iran," Commodore Fraser said when asked about the timing of the UK naval presence in the Gulf region. "The message we send is that we're operating with our partners in the Gulf and the UAE to exercise the capabilities that have been outlined," he said. "There's definitely a reassurance to the Gulf countries of our commitment to this region."
Captain James Morley, HMS Albion's Commanding Officer, said that these exercises have evolved over time. "The specifics are sometimes just the ability to communicate together and have a staff working together so that when we do anything for real for whatever reason it might be, it's not the first time we've picked up the phone and it's not the first time we've communicated with each other's ships and it's not the first time we've worked together."
Following its stop in Abu Dhabi, the Royal Navy Task Group will head back home via the Suez Canal, unless maritime security issues necessitate a change of course.