The Royal Navy will deploy its Type 23 frigate, HMS Sutherland (F81) to the Asia Pacific region to strengthen relations with allies in the area, the UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced while addressing the ship’s crew.
The ship will leave HM Naval Base Devonport in the New Year to represent UK interests across the Indian Ocean and into the Pacific. The frigate will be available to work closely with the country’s regional partners, including US, Japan and South Korea, and will participate in joint training and exercises.
This follows an announcement made by the Prime Minister that HMS Argyll will deploy to Japan to take part in exercises in December 2018 following participation in a Five Power Defence Arrangements exercise with Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia earlier in the year.
Speaking during a visit to the Devonport Naval Base, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said, “Our already strong defence ties with allies in the Asia Pacific area will be deepened further by this deployment.” “At a time when North Korea’s illegal weapons programme is causing global concern, the deployment of these two Royal Navy ships is a clear demonstration of the UK’s commitment to the peace and prosperity of the region”, he added.
As well as addressing the crew of the ship during his visit to the Naval Base, the Defence Secretary watched operational sea training on board another Type 23 frigate, HMS Westminster, met with staff and saw facilities at the Submarine Support complex.
HMS Sutherland is a Type 23 frigate of the British Royal Navy. She is the thirteenth ship in the Duke-class of frigates and is the third ship to bear the name, more than 200 years since the name was last used.
She was launched in 1996 by Lady Christina Walmsley, wife of Sir Robert Walmsley KCB. Before this occasion, Royal Navy ships had always been launched with a bottle of champagne, but Lady Walmsley broke with tradition and used a bottle of Macallan Scotch whisky.
The ship was commissioned into the fleet on 4 July 1997 and is homeported at HMNB Devonport, Plymouth.