The Royal Navy will maintain “an enduring presence” in the Middle East according to its senior commander in the region.

With work on a new £6m headquarters in Bahrain under way, Commodore Keith Blount says the investment is part of a long-term commitment to keep Royal Navy units in the region – building on a constant presence going back more than 30 years.

“As long as our national interests are out here, then there will be a Royal Navy presence here,” said the commodore, commander of the UK Maritime Component Command.

“Our national interests cut across this region in so many ways – large numbers of British nationals live here, it is a source of much of our energy, we have friendly relations with many nations.”

It is the task of his 80-strong team – who are currently split between the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet headquarters and buildings in the grounds of the American base – to choreograph Royal Navy operations across a vast area embracing the Eastern Mediterranean, Red Sea, Gulf and Indian Ocean almost as far south as Madagascar, more than 2½ million square miles of sea (more than eight times the size of the North Sea). […]