23/01/2012 09:08 GMT

HMS Westminster Deployed To Middle East Amid Rising Tensions

The Royal Navy has dispatched a Type 23 frigate to the Middle East amid rising tensions in the region between the West and Iran.

HMS Westminster set sail from Portsmouth for a seven-month mission to provide security and will also carry out counter-piracy patrols during its deployment and police busy shipping lanes.

The deployment comes as Britain joined the United States and France in sending a flotilla of warships through the sensitive Strait of Hormuz in a pointed message to the Iranian regime.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate, HMS Argyll, was part of the US-led carrier group to pass through the waterway, as tensions continued to escalate over Tehran's nuclear programme.

HMS Westminster's commanding officer, Captain Nick Hine, said he and his crew were "itching" to get going.

"It takes a tremendous amount of effort to get a complex and sophisticated warship ready for operations and I am extremely proud of my ship's company for the work they have done in getting us to this point," he said.

"We sail into a region of heightened tensions and great challenges and we are ready and up for it."

Last year the warship was deployed at short notice to the Mediterranean to assist in evacuating UK nationals from Libya and to conduct operations in support of United Nations Security Council resolutions against the Gaddafi regime.