Britain sends warship to Gulf as tension over Iran's blockade threat increases
Britain's biggest warship is being sent to the Gulf for its first mission as tensions rise in the strategically vital region, it has been revealed.
Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, which served as the conduit for 17 million barrels of oil every day last year.
Naval commanders believe the deployment of HMS Daring, a Type 45 destroyer, will send a significant message to the Iranians because of the firepower and technology carried by the warship.
Phillip Hammond, the British Defence Secretary, has publicly warned Iran that any blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be "illegal and unsuccessful".
The 'Daily Telegraph' understands that HMS Daring has been fitted with new technology that will give it the ability to shoot down any missile in Iran's armoury.
The £1bn (€1.2bn) destroyer, which will leave Portsmouth in England next Wednesday, also carries the world's most sophisticated naval radar, capable of tracking multiple incoming threats from missiles to jets.
HMS Daring, with its crew of 190, will go through the Suez Canal and enter the Gulf later this month.
Iran completed a 10-day naval exercise near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, staging manouevres that included firing three anti-ship missiles.
Tehran said yesterday that another exercise would be held next month. Admiral Ali Fadavi, commander of the naval branch of the Revolutionary Guard, warned that this would be "different" from the most recent one.
Mr Hammond said that "our joint naval presence in the Arabian Gulf" was "key to keeping the Strait of Hormuz open for international trade".
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "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." (© Daily Telegraph, London)