The maritime Area of Operation (AOR) spans a strategically important area of some 2.5 million square miles, covering the whole of the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Northern Arabian Sea running south from the Pakistani/Indian border to intersect with a line running east from the border of Kenya and Somalia, but including the Seychelles, an area larger than Europe.
The UK has strong political, commercial and trading links with the region including a large expatriate community.
Units of the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary have been on patrol in the Gulf since October 1980, after the Iran/Iraq conflict of that year, and more recently operations have extended into the wider AOR with the increase in piracy off the Somalia coast. A maritime presence is one of the principal means by which we can demonstrate our continuing commitment to enduring peace and stability in the region, with particular emphasis on Maritime Security Operations (MSO).
The AOR comprises two Command elements and a Training mission:
- United Kingdom Component Command (UKMCC) operates across the whole AOR except Iraq territorial waters, exercising command and control of the RN and RFA ships in the region and participating in the 24 nation maritime force, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
- Combined Task Force (Iraqi Maritime) (CTF (IM)) operates in the territorial waters of Iraq, maintaining security in and around Iraq’s two oil terminals.
- Training mission is based in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, where Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel are employed at the request of the Iraqi government in training the Iraqi Navy and Marines.
The ship contributions to the coalition MSO consists of at least one escort, supported by a tanker of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, within the operational area at all times. Whilst not always specifically nominated a second frigate or destroyer is at notice to reinforce this presence if required.
A weekly update of ships deployed to the Gulf area can be found on the Fleet Deployments page.