BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – British warship HMS Defender arrived in Brunei on Sunday to conduct a passing exercise with the Royal Brunei Navy and improve defence ties.

In a statement, the British High Commission in Brunei said crew members of the UK Royal Navy destroyer are expected to take part in “liaison activities” during their three-day visit here.

British High Commissioner John Virgoe said HMS Defender is the fifth UK ship to visit Brunei in three years.

“HMS Defender’s deployment underlines the UK’s commitment to the rules-based international order, which is essential for maintaining stability, security and prosperity in Southeast Asia,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

Launched in 2009, HMS Defender is one of the UK Royal Navy’s six Type 45 destroyers built to defend against air missiles.

The British warship is part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, which was deployed to the Mediterranean, Middle East and Indo-Pacific to demonstrate the UK’s interoperability with allies and project military power in support of international maritime security.

Commander Vince Owen, HMS Defender’s commanding officer, said Brunei is an “important enduring friend and partner of the UK” in the region and he looked forward to welcoming government officials and representatives of the armed forces onboard the ship.

The British carrier will not be open to the public due to COVID-19 considerations.

The statement added that the visit was planned with strict protocols in place to ensure the ship and its crew are coronavirus-free as all crew members were tested and fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to avoid any risks to Brunei.