The Armilla Patrol has been the Royal Navy’s permanent presence in the Persian Gulf since the early 1980s. Following the outbreak of the Iran Iraq war in 1980 the Royal navy decided that British interests and shipping in the region were in danger and an escort vessel should be deployed to the region as both a deterrent and to respond to any situations that need Royal Navy support. Typically both a Royal navy warship and an RFA support vessel are deployed, the Royal navy ship remaining on station for six months and the RFA ship for a year. At times of greater tension an aircraft carrier or task group have reinforced the patrol. During both the First Gulf war and the invasion of Iraq the presence in the region has been increased and tonight we have a commemorative polo shirt from HMS Sutherland’s deployment on this patrol in 2003:The polo shirt is an entirely standard white shirt, however it has had a custom embroidered ship’s badge and lettering sewn onto the chest:The ship helped police the region and had one seizure of note on this deployment, as reported by the BBC at the time:
A ship smuggling 1,100 tons of oil out of Iraq has been intercepted by the Royal Navy.
It is the Navy’s largest seizure since the end of the war.
Royal Marine commandos from the HMS Sutherland frigate boarded the vessel in the northern Arabian gulf late on Friday and arrested its captain and crew. The raid comes as ordinary Iraqis rioted in frustration at the country’s fuel shortages.
The ship had been under surveillance for several days.
“This is the most significant seizure we have had since the end of the war,” Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Richard Walter said.
The ship, called Navstar 1, was registered in Panama and had a Ukrainian crew.
It was not known who owned the vessel or where it was headed with its load of diesel oil.
The US-appointed administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said coalition forces were determined to put an end to any illegal activities affecting Iraq’s economy and its people.
“The seizure of the Navstar 1 demonstrates the commitment of the coalition forces and the Iraqi police to protecting Iraq’s assets, so that they can benefit all Iraqis, rather than the criminals,” he said in a statement.
The ship was due to be escorted to the southern port of Umm Qasr this weekend where the crew would be handed over to Iraqi police for questioning.