Work has started on a BD6.3 million  ($16.6 million) expansion of the UK Maritime Component Command  (UKMCC) complex in the Juffair district of Bahrain.The project is the maritime forces' biggest investment on foreign soil  and is being built with British money procured through Foreign Military Sales, according to the report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.British Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mark Francois attended the official ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, as part of his two-day trip to Bahrain.He was joined by British Ambassador Iain Lindsay, Royal Bahraini Navy Force Commander Commodore Abdulla Said Al Mansouri and officials from the UK Maritime Component.The project comprises a new headquarters and an engineering and logistics facility.Both buildings are due to be completed by July 2015 to coincide with the completion of the Salman Naval Base, previously known as Mina Salman Port."The build has a 30-year design life and is testament to the commitment of the UKMCC in Bahrain as before we have only ever had temporary buildings and this is what we usually have in other locations like Afghanistan," said project manager Royal Engineer Major Ros Elliott."But this project is putting out a clear statement that we are going to be here for a significant period of time and it is a big commitment and promise to Bahrain that we will be here carrying out our work preventing drug smuggling and people smuggling, which funds terrorism, and maintaining security on the seas."This will be the UK's biggest operational theatre outside of the UK."The original maritime headquarters was built in 2001 when there was a head count of just eight people, and there are now more than 80 UK 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."The relationship between the Royal Navy and Bahrain goes back 200 years," said UK Maritime Component Commander and Deputy Commander Commodore Keith Blount."This new UK Maritime Component Command headquarters and logistics facility underscores the UK's continuing and enduring commitment to Bahrain and the wider region."I am very excited by this development and this purpose-built site means we will be better equipped to deliver the operational support required to our ships at sea."It will be better for the Royal Navy and better for our people."