BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – British warship the HMS Montrose ended her two-day visit to the sultanate with a naval exercise with the Royal Brunei Navy’s KDB Berkat on Monday, hoping to deepen the exchange of skills and knowledge between the naval forces of both countries.

The Type 23 Frigate arrived at Muara Port on Saturday morning, with the visit focusing on logistics and supply sustainment after a two-week stay in Japan, where the ship conducted naval exercises with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and the US Navy.

Her next deployment will be to Bahrain, where the vessel will stay for three years.

Speaking to the media, Commander Conor O’Neill said the HMS Montrose is part of an international effort — which includes the naval forces of South Korea, the United States and Japan — in monitoring enforcement of UN sanctions against North Korea.

The ship has been tasked with detecting illegal ship-to-ship transfers of oil to North Korea, which has received at least 263 tanker deliveries of refined petroleum procured from illegal ship-to-ship transfers at sea, according to a US government advisory.

“Next we will engage in counternarcotics operation with Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) in the Indian Ocean, and we will play our part in stopping the flow of illegal drugs from Asia through Africa and to Europe.

“Our sister ship HMS Dragon is out on patrol at the moment and she has recently had great success in detecting the flow of drugs into Europe and into the wider world”.

Commanding Officer of the HMS Montrose, Commander Conor O’Neill. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

The HMS Montrose is a multipurpose frigate capable of hunting submarines as well as defending “herself and ships in her area against air attacks”, O’Neill said.

The warship also operates a wildcat helicopter which has been used to combat marine pollution in Britain’s most remote overseas territory, the Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific, with the Henderson island in particular dubbed the most polluted island in the world.

“We were able to use our helicopter to provide surveying information and data on the level of plastic waste, which beaches they’re on and which sides of the islands that are affected by the current of waste.

“We might be in the military but we are also sailors, mariners. Keeping the seas clean for us to work and enjoy, to dive under and sail over is important for us”.

Speaking on the increased presence of British defence forces in Asia-Pacific, the commander said it serves to deepen the UK’s ties with military forces in the region: “This is a region of vital importance for both Britain and the economy, we have historical links with Brunei but we have vested interest across the region”.