Royal Navy sending third warship to Asia Pacific

The UK defense ministry confirmed on Wednesday it is sending amphibious transport dock HMS Albion to North East Asia to support UN sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Albion set sail from the Devonport Naval Base in February this year and was initially scheduled to spend five months in the Mediterranean Sea as flagship of NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2).

Neither the navy nor the defense ministry explained why this change of tasking occurred.

Captain Tim Neild, HMS Albion commanding officer, said: “It is a huge privilege for us to fly the flag of the NATO task group commander in such a high profile deployment.

Albion is the third Royal Navy ship to be sent to the Asia-Pacific region.

Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland has already started its engagements in the region and is currently on a port call in Yokosuka, Japan. Another Type 23 frigate, the HMS Argyll, will join the two later this year.

“Until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions, the UK will continue working closely with partners and allies to keep up pressure and strictly enforce existing sanctions, ensuring not only regional security but that of the UK as well,” Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

In the coming months HMS Albion, alongside HMS Sutherland, will be contributing to international efforts to monitor prohibited trading at sea by the DPRK, which provides a major source of funding for its illegal nuclear program.

While in the region, both vessels will visit several ports and take part in joint training with allies and partners, including the US, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

“I am delighted to support UK interests in the Asia-Pacific. Our deployment serves as a fantastic example of the flexibility and global reach of the Royal Navy,” Captain Tim Neild, the commanding officer of HMS Albion, said. “As always, I am extremely grateful for the ongoing support from our families and friends back home as we carry out these important international responsibilities on the other side of the world.”

The deployment of these three ships will mean that the Royal Navy will have a vessel in the strategically critical Asia-Pacific region for the first time since 2013 and will have an almost unbroken presence there this year.

Once HMS Argyll arrives in Asia Pacific, she is set to participate in a Five Power Defence Arrangements exercise with Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore before also travelling to North East Asia for further joint training and exercises.