Navy

Carrier Not Needed To Deter 'Cheeky Iranians', Defence Minister Says

It comes after the UK joined a US-led taskforce to protect vessels in the Gulf shipping route.

Defence minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Commodore Mike Utley on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth (Picture: PA).

A defence minister has said HMS Queen Elizabeth would not have been deployed to the Strait of Hormuz, as a smaller warship was enough to deter "cheeky Iranians in their little fast boats".

It comes after the UK joined a US-led task force to protect vessels in the Gulf shipping route.

It followed the Iranian seizure of the British-flagged vessel Stena Impero.

The Royal Navy has deployed Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan and Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose.

HMS Montrose was already permanently deployed to the Gulf region (Picture: MOD).

Defence procurement minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan was asked on board HMS Queen Elizabeth whether the carrier would have been deployed if it had been operationally capable.

She said: "It depends on what you need it for, in the recent, the Iranian sharp-shooters in the little boats coming out and trying to hijack ships, it's a very narrow strait, the reality is a patrol, a constabulary like Montrose is there to help them through.

"And those cheeky Iranians in their little fast boats don't mess with a warship, Montrose is a very good warship, she knows what she is doing."

A US-led task force was set up to protect vessels in the Gulf shipping route following the Iranian seizure of the British-flagged vessel Stena Impero (Picture: Stena Bulk).

Ms Trevelyan said the carrier had an important place in the UK's defence strategy.

She added the plan remained for both HMS Queen Elizabeth and its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, to both be equipped with 24 F-35B Lightning jets - with a total of 138 during their 50-year lifespan.

She also said a preferred bidder for the £250 million Type 31 frigates would be announced by the end of the year.