Saudi Arabia has joined the maritime military coalition led by the US to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf region.

Known as the International Maritime Security Construct, the military coalition includes Australia, Bahrain, and the UK.

It was established to counter threats to vessels following a series of attacks against ships entering and leaving the Arabian Gulf and aims to protect commercial ships while providing safe navigation.

The military coalition operates in the areas of the Strait of Hormuz, Bab Al-Mandab Strait, Sea of Oman and Arabian Gulf.

This latest move comes in the wake of attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities and is aimed at securing the Middle East waterways amid threats from Iran.

The decision to enter the International Maritime Security Construct came ahead of a planned arrival by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Saudi Arabia for consultations.

Saudi Press Agency quoted a defence ministry official as saying: “The kingdom’s accession to this international alliance comes in support of regional and international efforts to deter and counter threats to maritime navigation and global trade.”

The International Maritime Security Construct coalition plans to protect the Persian Gulf region, including surveillance of the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb.

Smaller patrol boats and other craft will be in place to respond to attacks.

Tensions increased in the Middle East following attacks by a drone and missile on two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The US has accused Iran of being responsible.