Tamar and Spey Show UK Commitment to the Indo-Pacific

Committing two patrol ships to the Indo-Pacific is just one strand of the Royal Navy’s renewed interest – and presence – in the region.

The head of the Royal Navy told an international conference in Sydney focusing on sea power in the Pacific that the region was “crucial” to the prosperity and security of the UK.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key said the Royal Navy returned to the Indo-Pacific “with renewed vigor and commitment to our friendships and alliances. But we come too with humility.”

Admiral Key’s address came as the lead ship of the Royal Navy’s renewed permanent presence in the region, HMS Tamar, completed her latest exercise with the Malaysian and Singaporean navies and on the back of last year’s hugely-successful Carrier Strike Group deployment led by HMS Queen Elizabeth.

HMS Tamar has been committed to the Indo-Pacific with her sister HMS Spey since the autumn, making them the first Royal Navy vessels stationed in the region since the handover of Hong Kong a quarter of a century ago.

Whilst her sister Spey delivered aid to Tonga following a tsunami earlier this year amid operations in the South Pacific, Tamar has been operating further north, helping to enforce UN sanctions imposed on North Korea and conducting exercises with the UK’s key allies and partners in the region.

She lined up with Malaysian frigate Selangor and Singaporean corvette RSS Valour to test their combined abilities to work side-by-side, build close working relationships and ultimately safeguarding and protecting the nations.

Bersama (‘together’) Shield has been run in various formats for nearly 20 under the banner of the Five Power Defence Arrangement which, since 1971, has demonstrated the commitment of Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to defense cooperation and regional security.

The 2022 iteration saw Tamar practice gunnery, force protection exercises, and regular fleet work.

“It was an absolute privilege to work with friends in the region to build on such long-established previous successes, strengthening our ability to come together and affirm regional support where it is needed,” said Commander Teilo Eliot-Smith, Tamar’s Commanding Officer.

“We all learned a great deal from each other, as we always do in the spirit of openness, and with Tamar now an enduring presence here I’m excited to build further on such partnerships in future.”

Sub Lieutenant Antonio Valente from Formby in Liverpool is a Royal Navy Reservist from HMS Eaglet, the Navy’s home on Merseyside, who’s been mobilized to join Tamar on her Indo-Pacific adventure.

“Being part of Team Tamar in the region is a real honor! It is incredibly exciting and rewarding to be here working with other nations, and as part of such a motivated team.

“We are all proud to represent the Royal Navy in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and look forward to continuing to deepen our friendships with partners in months and years to come.”

Admiral Key told the Indo-Pacific Sea Power Conference hosted by the Royal Australian Navy in Sydney that such exercises were vital – not least to broadening the Royal Navy’s understanding of a region it once knew so well.

“Global Britain is back,” he said. “We come with renewed vigor, and commitment to our friendships and alliances. But we come too with humility. We have much we can do to benefit each other, boosting prosperity, peace and security. And we have much to learn from you.”

The Admiral said our friends, allies and partners across the region could expect to see the Royal Navy working with them on a range of issues – from traditional naval co-operation and exercises, to tackling crime on the high seas, global warming and illegal fishing.

And he underlined the importance of the Indo-Pacific to UK trade and industry – £36bn imports/exports pass between Britain and the ten nations of the ASEAN economic union, which includes Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.

He continued: “This is all part of a Global Britain, that is confident, outward looking, that wants to operate, trade and develop together.

“If my message isn’t clear: the Indo Pacific is crucial to us.”

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