Australia has become the latest country to join the US-led international maritime security mission in the Gulf to enhance the safety of shipping assets passing through the region.

Maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz has become a rallying point for the US and UK in the wake of attacks on shipping assets in the region.

Tensions have escalated after a spate of incidents in recent months. In June, Iran allegedly downed a US RQ-4 Global Hawk military surveillance drone in the Gulf for breaching international aviation rules.

The following month, an Iranian vessel was seized by Gibraltar over sanction violations.

In retaliation, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized a British-flagged oil tanker.

To ensure the safety of ships transiting the key shipping route, the UK Government joined the US Navy in the security mission earlier this month.

The UK also invited European allies to join the mission to put up a strong force to ward off threats from Iran. Bahrain followed the US to support the international operation.

The Australian government has stated that the country is committed to freedom of navigation and safe passage through the Gulf.

As part of the mission, Australia will deploy a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft to the Middle East for one month by the end of this year, and a frigate in January next year on a six-month deployment.

The country will also send Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel to the International Maritime Security Construct headquarters in Bahrain.

The Australian Government said in a media release: “The government has been concerned with incidents involving shipping in the Strait of Hormuz over the past few months.

“This destabilising behaviour is a threat to Australian interests in the region. We have been working closely with our allies and partners, particularly the US and the UK, on this issue, which impacts global security and stability.”