A British warship deployed to Asia-Pacific to police international sanctions against North Korea docked at Muara Port on Saturday, as part of a broader UK pivot to monitoring security in the Far East.
The HMS Albion — the largest vessel in the Royal Navy — will also take part in joint training and exercises with the Royal Brunei Navy during its four-day visit.
Captain Tim Neild, the Albion’s Commanding Officer, told The Scoop that he will be meeting senior Bruneian naval officials to discuss how the UK and Brunei can work together to ensure security on the high seas.
“The Albion is the Swiss army knife of UK defence, capable of a broad range of operations for humanitarian aid to… war fighting,” he said, adding that their presence in the sultanate demonstrated the “long-standing commitment” of the British Forces in Brunei, which maintain the only UK military garrison in the Far East.
The arrival of the HMS Albion is part of a much broader deployment of Royal Navy assets to the Asia-Pacific. The warship will join the HMS Sutherland in monitoring prohibited sea trading by North Korea, which the UK believes provides a major source of funding for its illegal nuclear programme.
On Friday, the leaders of North and South Korea agreed to the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, paving the way for a potential peace treaty. However, how they will go about removing Pyongyang’s atomic arsenal remains unclear.
“The UK is permanent member of the UN Security Council, we enforce UNSC resolutions worldwide and so our presence in the region is a commitment to the enforcement to those sanctions,” Neild said, adding that 35 percent of UK trade gores through the Asia-Pacific.
The British High Commissioner Richard Lindsay said the shared security of the UK and its partners in the region depends on upholding a rules-based international system: “The significance of that is very high and the deployment of the Albion is very much a commitment of upholding the rules, including asserting the principle of freedom of navigation.”
A third British vessel — the HMS Argyll — will arrive in the region later this year.
It is the first time since 2013 that the British navy has maintained a presence in Asia-Pacific.