The similar mindset of UK and Oman naval forces has made cooperation between the two countries easy, according to Commander Ian Clarke, commanding officer of Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond, which is in Muscat as she nears the end of a six-month deployment.
Primarily working under the banner of the Combined Maritime Forces based in Bahrain, the Diamond has exercised and undertaken patrols with the counter terrorism Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 and the Gulf-based maritime security mission of CTF 152. Much of the warship's work has been conducted in and around the Sea of Oman, said Clarke on Tuesday during a five-day visit to the capital.
“Our primary task has mainly been in the Sea of Oman, ensuring maritime security. We have worked extensively with GCC partners such as Oman, the UAE, and Kuwait,” he said. “You can learn a lot from these exchanges. They have the local knowledge and a deep understanding of the patterns of life in the area. In turn we can teach them about operating such a vessel and things such as boarding actions.”
“The links between the UK and Omani navies are strong, and it is easy to work together as we have a similar mindset.”
Highlights of the deployment included the multinational mine countermeasure exercise in the Sea of Oman that took place in September, in which Diamond had the role of 'protecting' a fleet of mine hunters from 'attacks' by US fighter jets. Omani personnel were also assigned across a number of UK vessels during this exercise.
“During the exercise we embarked an Omani naval corvette commander and junior officers on board for a mine countermeasure exercise in the Sea of Oman. Other vessels in the fleet, such as RFA Cardigan Bay, also had embarked Omani personnel. The exercise was a great success,” said Clarke.
Since the deployment of the first-in-class Type 45 destroyer to the region earlier this year, its crews have become accustomed to working with newly developed equipment in different environments. HMS Diamond had added further to this knowledge by being the first vessel of its class to deploy during the peak Arabian summer.
Although the vessel is expected to be replaced by the smaller Type-23 frigate HMS Monmouth in the coming months, Oman and the Gulf region can expect to see a lot of the UK Royal Navy's new Type 45 air-defence destroyers in future, added Clarke. “You will see more Type 45's out here, they will become a regular feature in the region.”