Royal Navy sending another ship on Asia-Pacific deployment

The Royal Navy will deploy Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose to Japan later this year, where the ship will contribute to the enforcement of UN sanctions on North Korea.

HMS Montrose in Tahiti. Photo: Royal Navy

Montrose will be the fourth British warship to visit Japan and operate in the region in the past 12 months.

Fellow Plymouth-based frigate Montrose will head to the Asia-Pacific to monitor illegal ship-to-ship transfers of key imports and exports as part of the international pressure campaign against North Korea’s illegal nuclear programme.

During her deployment, announced by Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday during a visit by her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, the ship will follow in the footsteps of sister ship HMS Argyll, taking part in anti-submarine warfare alongside the Japanese Navy.

Commander Conor O’Neill, commanding officer of HMS Montrose, said: “HMS Montrose is looking forward to deploying further into Asia, heading deeper into this important region.”

It was a busy 2018 of UK-Japanese co-operation with UK troops taking part in an exercise on Japanese soil for the first time for exercise Vigilant Isles in October.

HMS Sutherland joined Argyll for exercises with HMS Albion also spending time in the area enforcing sanctions against North Korea. Montrose’s deployment means the Royal Navy will have had an almost unbroken presence in the strategically critical Asia-Pacific area for the last year.

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Japan is one of our most important and valued global partners, both in defence and beyond. The Royal Navy’s presence plays a vital part by continuing to put pressure on North Korea to abandon its illegal nuclear programme.”

HMS Montrose is currently on a 5,500-mile journey from South America to New Zealand and spent some time visiting Tahiti.

It’s the first time in 15 years a Royal Navy ship has visited the French island chain – 5,000 miles from Japan, 2,500 miles from Auckland.

During her time in Tahiti, Montrose honed her air defense skills against a French Guardian Maritime Patrol Aircraft. And the French made use of HMS Montrose, practicing setting down one of their Dauphin helicopters on the flight deck – all before the British warship sailed into the capital Papeete.

Montrose is ultimately heading for Bahrain, where she’ll be based for three years, swapping her entire crew with sister ship HMS Monmouth every six or so months to allow Britain to maintain a major warship in the Middle East long term.