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Int’l Coalition Launches Operations to Protect Navy Shipping in Gulf Waters

Int’l Coalition Launches Operations to Protect Navy Shipping in Gulf Waters

Friday, 8 November, 2019 - 08:30
Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, which was seized by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, arrives at Port Rashid in Dubai, United Arab Emirates September 28, 2019. REUTERS/Christopher Pike/File Photo
Manama, London - Asharq Al-Awsat, Obaid al-Suheimy

A new US-led naval coalition on Thursday officially launched operations from its Bahrain headquarters to protect shipping in the troubled waters of the Gulf, after a string of attacks that Washington and its allies blamed on Iran.

The new mission, dubbed Operation Sentinel, is designed to “ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waters” throughout the Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Oman, US Central Command said in a release.

Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, said Operation Sentinel is a defensive measure aimed at protecting Gulf waters.

“While Sentinel’s operational design is threat-based, it does not threaten,” he said during a ceremony at the IMSC’s command center.

“We employ capable warships on patrol, but there is no offensive line of effort in this construct, other than a commitment to defend each other if attacked,” Malloy said.

Reuters reported that Britain lowered its security risk level for UK-flagged ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, more than a month after one of its tankers was finally released from detention by Iran.

“UK-flagged ships will soon be able to transit the Strait of Hormuz without close Royal Naval accompaniment, following a decrease in the specific risk of detention of these vessels,” a government spokeswoman said.

The UK Chamber of Shipping said it had been calling for a de-escalation of tensions in the Strait of Hormuz and welcomed the news that British-flagged ships would soon be able to transit the area without close Royal Navy protection.

“We continue to urge all ships operating in the region to liaise with the relevant authorities to ensure their safety and to enable the free flow of goods across the world,” a spokesman for the trade association said on Thursday.

“Global trade relies on the safe passage of goods and without this consumers and businesses could suffer from increased costs.”

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