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IN PICTURES: UK naval base ‘can hold full regiment’ in event of crisis

Bahrain News
Sun, 15 Jul 2018
By Raji Unnikrishnan, Pictures: SADIQ MARZOOQ
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Bahrain News: IN PICTURES: UK naval base ‘can hold full regiment’ in event of crisis
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Lt Wadge enters an accommodation block at HMS Juffair, named after Royal Navy ships. Top, the facilities can accommodate an entire British regiment

AN entire British regiment could be deployed to Bahrain in the event of an emergency or humanitarian crisis in the region, the GDN has learnt.

The new UK naval base, HMS Juffair, is designed to hold an entire battle unit – and has been dubbed Britain’s best naval facility in the world.

This is in addition to accommodating mine hunters, frigates and destroyer size ships at its Mina Salman port complex, which can house another 200 military personal, said UK Maritime Component Command (UKMCC) Public Affairs Officer Lieutenant Guy Wadge.

“The UK headquarters is designed to hold a whole battle staff at a given time, as in if there is an emergency like a conflict or humanitarian crisis which needs a team to be stepped up for assistance, we have the capacity to do that,” Lt Wadge told the GDN during an exclusive tour.

“The facility has the capacity to accommodate four mine hunters and a destroyer sized vehicle, all alongside the same time.

“A warehouse that supports fleets on logistics, engineering and maintenance is also a storage facility that accommodates over 200,000 different items.”

HMS Juffair, also referred to as the UK Naval Support Facility (NSF), was officially opened in April by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, along with Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

Built to UK specifications and with provisions for future expansion, it was the first new British military establishment east of Suez since 1971 and cost an estimated BD14 million-plus.

Six accommodation blocks in the facility has been named after Royal Navy ships based here in the past – Appleton, Chilcompton, Chawton, Bereton, Brinton and Gavinton.

The administrative block, which is the headquarters of the facility, houses the second command of the base, police forces, accounts department and guard forces.

“Of the six accommodation blocks, each two-storey and with a total of 549 bed space, one is for the officers, four for permanent staff (two shared by visitors) and one for transit visitors (visiting ships and aircraft),” explained NSF Base Officer Mick Stanion.

“The rooms are both single and sharing – and separate for male and female mariners.

“Sailors on transit will share up to six in a room, with sharing kitchen and toilet facilities.

“A welfare building with a shop, main dining area, coffee bar, social lounge, two gyms, games area and a chapel is the active hub of the facility.

“A football pitch and an open barbecue and social area are additional facilities.”

The welfare block was opened by Britain’s heir to the throne and UK Admiral of the Fleet, Prince Charles, in November 2016.

“The base at a given time accommodates up to 170 permanent staff, apart from visitors and till date (from March 31) the facility has had 550 visitors,” added Officer Stanion.

“Except the welfare building, all other buildings are three floors.

“An in-house chapel offers 24-hours service under the leadership of resident priest Reverend David Convoy who conducts regular Sunday mass.

“Mostly the facility accommodates young sailors aged around 30 years and our aim is to make the place comfortable for them, a home away from home for every British sailor in the facility.

“The facility has been funded by the UK Defence Ministry, while the Royal Marines and Royal Charity have generously gifted the equipment in the social and games area – including the furniture and televisions – making life more comfortable.

“The gym overlooking the sea is adjacent to the social room, designed to make the at home feel with a balcony and smoking area.

“Three times a week, latest movies are screened and we also have the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) studio, which currently works on a six-hour live broadcast daily, is hoping go live in Bahrain with a licence awaited soon.

Facilities

“Bahrain is better than any other facilities of the UK Navy elsewhere in the world.”

The agreement to set up the permanent naval base was signed by then UK Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond with the Bahrain government in December 2014.

There are around a dozen Royal Navy ships and units deployed in the region, plus well over 1,200 men and women.

raji @gdn.com.bh

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