Bahrain: UK Royal Navy establishes anti-piracy HQ
A still from the 2013 Captain Phillips movie depicting pirates hijacking the MV Maersk Alabama. (Twitter)
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A multi-million dollar headquarters to oversee the UK's counter-piracy and maritime anti-terrorism efforts in the Gulf will open next week in Bahrain, a report said.
The BD6.3 million ($16.5 million) expansion of the UK Maritime Component Command (UKMCC) complex in Juffair, which constitutes Britain's largest maritime forces investment on foreign soil, is complete, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The project comprises a new headquarters and an engineering and logistics facility.
The GDN reported in April last year that both buildings were expected to be completed by July this year to coincide with the completion of the Salman Naval Base, previously known as Mina Salman Port.
However, British Ambassador Iain Lindsay told the GDN exclusively that the facility was ready ahead of schedule. "The regional headquarters of the Royal Navy will be opened on June 15," he said.
"The Royal Navy oversees activity not in the Arabian Gulf but in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and Western Indian Ocean."
Former UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mark Francois last year attended a ground-breaking ceremony for the new complex, joined by Lindsay, Royal Bahraini Navy Force Commander Commodore Abdulla Said Al Mansouri and other officials.
The headquarters will help foil drug smuggling efforts and maintain maritime security in the region.
The original maritime headquarters was built in 2001 when there was a head count of just eight people, but there are now more than 80 British personnel working for the UKMCC.
The Royal Navy has maintained a continuous presence in the Gulf since 1980 and is the second-biggest Western maritime force stationed in Bahrain after the US.
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