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Britain Opens 'Permanent' Persian Gulf Military Base In Bahrain

Bahrain also hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. (file photo)

Britain has opened its first permanent military base in the Middle East in more than four decades – a facility in Bahrain that gives the United Kingdom a stronger presence along key international shipping routes.

The HMS Juffair naval facility in Bahrain’s Mina Salman Port can house about 500 Royal Navy personnel, including sailors, soldiers and airmen.

British military officials say it will make it easier for the Royal Navy to conduct longer-term deployments in the Persian Gulf. It also will offer engineering and logistical support for ships.

Commodore Steve Dainton, U.K. Maritime Component Commander said the Royal Navy's aim is to "enhance and ensure the maritime security in the region."

He said its tasks will include ensuring "law and order on the high seas, countering piracy, countering terrorism, making sure that the high seas are all safe for the free-flow of commerce" and trade.

Construction for the permanent British facility was inaugurated in 2015.

Bahrain, which is located off the coast of Saudi Arabia and just west of its rival Iran, also hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Based on reporting by AP and BBC