An advanced British warship will be deployed in the Persian Gulf to send a "significant message" to the Iranians, the Telegraph reported Saturday, adding that the ship has been fitted with new technology that will give it the ability to "shoot down any missile in Iran's armory."
The Royal Navy's HMS Daring will pass through the Suez Canal and enter the Gulf later this month, the report said.
The Islamic Republic has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, which served as the conduit for 17 millions barrels of oil every day last year. British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond has warned Tehran that any blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be "illegal and unsuccessful."
"Our joint naval presence in the Arabian Gulf" was "key to keeping the Strait of Hormuz open for international trade," the newspaper quoted Hammond as saying.
The Telegraph said naval commanders believe the deployment of the Type 45 destroyer will send a significant message to the Iranians because of the "firepower and world-beating technology carried by the warship."
The destroyer, which will leave Portsmouth next Wednesday, "also carries the world's most sophisticated naval radar, capable of tracking multiple incoming threats from missiles to fighter jets," according to the British daily.
The Telegraph quoted a Navy source as saying that more British ships could be sent to the Gulf if required.
Lord West, the former First Sea Lord, described Daring as a "world beater", adding: "This warship has an unbelievably capable ability to track targets, spot the most dangerous and identify them for its missiles to take out. It's highly, highly capable. I would like to see the Type 45s show their potential in the region."
The Telegraph said the 8,000 ton destroyer will carry 48 Sea Vipers that can also be used to shoot down fighters as well as sea skimming missiles. It will also carry a Lynx helicopter capable of carrying Sea Skua anti-ship missiles and is capable of embarking 60 special forces troops, according to the report.
A Ministry of Defense spokesman was quoted by the Telegraph as saying: "While the newly operational Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring is more capable than earlier ships, her deployment East of Suez has been long planned, is entirely routine and replaces a frigate on station."
On Friday Iran announced plans to hold new naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz next month, the latest in a series of forceful gestures in the world's most important oil shipping lane at a time when new sanctions threaten Tehran's exports.
Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, naval commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, said the exercises in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz in February would be different from previous exercises, but gave no further details, according to remarks reported by the semi-official Fars news agency.
"Today the Islamic Republic of Iran has full domination over the region and controls all movements within it," he said.
Iran held a 10-day drill which ended on Monday in the strait, which leads out of the Gulf and provides the main export route for the Middle East's oil.
Iranian officials have threatened in recent weeks to block the strait if new sanctions harm Tehran's oil exports, and this week threatened to take action if the United States sails an aircraft carrier through it.
The United States, which has a massive naval fleet in the area that is overwhelmingly more powerful than Iran's sea forces, says it will ensure the strait stays open. Britain said on Thursday that any attempt to close it would be illegal and unsuccessful.
Reuters contributed to the report
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