W2W - maritime power is important

NAVAL convoys imply a serious threat and the last time we saw them was in the late 1980s during the Iran/Iraq war.

Then the United States resorted to them to ensure vitally-needed oil for the West continued to flow.

Move forward to today, and we saw Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt explaining to the Commons why the UK appears unable to defend her interests in the Gulf.

It’s a good question, and timely, with one British tanker impounded by Iran, another harassed and yet another released after boarding by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Mr Hunt acknowledged that, with one ship held hostage, diplomacy has already failed.

However, he also mentioned a lack of resources, which I questioned, finding it deeply concerning in view of the deep cuts over recent years to our Royal Navy.

I have raised this repeatedly in the House.

The Falklands provided a salutary lesson on the risks of a so-called ‘peace dividend’.

However, despite this experience, there is just one British destroyer currently in the Gulf.

Regrettably, HMS Montrose was unable to reach Stena Impero before she was commandeered and steered into Iranian waters.

There are other possible deterrents, such as putting soldiers on ships.

However, while Mr Hunt favours a “more robust military approach,” he cited fears that arming our ships risks inflaming an already explosive situation.

Iran is a rogue state and sadly only respects strength.

Appeasement is not the answer.

Nor is spurning US offers of making up convoys to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.

Instead, we are seeking alternative partners amongst reluctant Gulf states, EU nations and Australasia.

We were once a great maritime nation and our new Prime Minister needs to ensure we are once again.