Operation Sentinel, the US-led naval coalition patrolling Middle Eastern waters, officially launched yesterday.
Merchant ships will now be escorted through the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway that has been the scene of multiple attacks in recent months. The coalition, which has been discussed for the past five months, launches at a time where tension in the region has actually dropped in recent weeks.
US Central Command said in a release the new coalition, headquartered in Bahrain, would “ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waters” throughout the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Oman.
As well as the US, Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia, the UK and Albania are all involved in Operation Sentinel.
The start of the operation comes at a time where tension in the region appears to have reduced. Yesterday Britain lowered its security risk level for UK-flagged ships travelling through the Strait of Hormuz, more than a month after one of its tankers, the Stena Impero, was finally released from detention by Iran.
“UK flagged ships will soon be able to transit the Strait of Hormuz without close Royal Naval accompaniment, following a decrease in the specific risk of detention of these vessels,” a government spokeswoman told Reuters yesterday.