The UK Royal Navy has assumed command of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) to protect commercial shipping as it sails through the Strait of Hormuz.

The construct includes the UK, US, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Albania and was formed in November 2019 in response to rising tensions with Iran which included several attacks on commercial shipping vessels and the seizing of the British-flagged Stena Impero by Iranian forces.

Royal Navy officer Commodore James Parkin assumed command of the coalition today during a ceremony held at the IMSC’s headquarters in Bahrain.

The IMSC aims to ensure the safe navigation of commercial vessels through the area and deter illegal activity in the Strait.

Parkin said: “The IMSC is committed to ensuring the safety of shipping in the Gulf region, which contains some of the most important choke points in the world. We recognise the importance of freedom of navigation and will ensure it is upheld by our seven-member nations.

“While the UK continues to call for de-escalation, the safety and security of our citizens and our interests in the region are of paramount concern to the UK and all other members of the IMSC.”

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By GlobalData

Parkin replaces US Navy Rear Admiral Alvin Holsey and is set to hold the role for the next four months.

US Fifth Fleet, Commander US Naval Forces Central Command, Vice Admiral James Malloy said: “We gather to mark the first change of command of Coalition Task Force (CTF) Sentinel. This team of trailblazers and its commander, Rear Admiral Alvin Holsey, have been hard at work over the last few months, building an operational team, coordinating operations, patrolling the seas, sending messages of assurance to allies, and demonstrating the international community’s commitment to the security of this critical region.”

Holsey said: “Looking around the room today, I see a diverse group of people representing seven nations, who’ve built IMSC into what it is today.

“That diversity of knowledge and experience makes us who we are. It makes our team strong. From a deep understanding of the culture, the waters, seamanship, to international shipping expertise, IMSC brings our strengths together.”

Parkin is the Commander of the Royal Navy Littoral Strike Group based at Stonehouse, in Plymouth.