Could India Become Home To The Royal Navy's New Frigate?

The First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones has hinted at a more permanent presence in India.

India could become home for one of the Royal Navy’s new Type 31 frigates, the First Sea Lord has suggested.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones hinted at the possibility of basing the vessel there, during a visit from the head of the Indian Navy to HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth.

There is little secret the Royal Navy sees a sizable part of its future in the east - the Indo-Pacific region.

The visit from the Indian Navy chief took place on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is scheduled to head to the Indian Ocean as part of her maiden deployment in 2021. 

During a visit of the head of the Indian Navy, the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones hinted at a more permanent presence in India when the Type 31 frigate becomes operational.

"We have not yet decided where we base those ships - there are many decisions to be made.

"But whether it is actually physically based in India, or whether it is just spending a lot more time working with the Indian Navy, I think there is a rich opportunity there for forward-basing."

HMS Queen Elizabeth homecoming
HMS Queen Elizabeth is scheduled to head to the Indian Ocean as part of her maiden deployment in 2021.

Admiral Sunil Lanba, Head of India’s Navy, welcomed the UK’s intention to spend more time in the Indian Ocean.

"The increased focus of the Royal Navy to the Indian Ocean region is indeed a welcome step, and we hope to partner the RN in leveraging our collective strength to ensure safety and security of the region," he said.

Whether or not the Royal Navy decides to base a warship in an Indian port depends a lot on how their current forward-basing trial progresses.

Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose is the first to be forward-based in the UK’s Bahrain facility.

HMS Montrose at sea
HMS Montrose (Picture: MOD).

The First Sea Lord explained how that forward-basing trail will progress: "We are going to look at the potential to extend Forward Presence with more of our fleet being forward-based."

"It is a hugely efficient and productive way to generate effect from our ships.

"We will try that initially, perhaps, with some more Type 23 general purpose frigates, then look at doing it with the new Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessels - the first of those is now in Portsmouth."