By David Scott Toward the end of May 2021, first the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and then the Queen visited the British flagship, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth. In effec…
Strengthened British bases and facilities are now seen across and around the Indian Ocean. At Bahrain, HMS Jufair, abandoned in 1971 was re-established in 2018, and the U.K. Joint Logistics Support Base was opened at Duqm the same year. Increased U.K. use of Diego Garcia has been evident since 2018. Finally, in Singapore the modest U.K. presence in the repair and logistics facility (British Defence Singapore Support Unit) at Sembawang wharf, was supplemented with the Defence Staff Office in 2017, amid subsequent talk of further reinforcement of the U.K. presence there.
A U.K. focus on the Indo-Pacific was given further impetus by Brexit and the need to secure trade deals across the Indo-Pacific – involving South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, India, and New Zealand, as well as seeking entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership – which in turn has made security of sea lanes (commerce flows and shipping) of even greater significance for the U.K.
Things are really ramping up in SE Asia, its going to be an interesting and scary few years.