A ROYAL Australian Navy frigate and a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft are to be deployed to the Middle East for one month before the end of 2019.

This follows several apparent attacks on tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz, blamed on, but also denied by, Iran.

ADF personnel also will be deployed to the International Maritime Security Construct headquarters in Bahrain.

According to the Prime Minister’s office, the mission is expected to see the Australian Defence Force work with its international partners to assure the security of merchant vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.

“The government has been concerned with incidents involving shipping in the Strait of Hormuz over the past few months,” PM Morrison said.

“This destabilising behaviour is a threat to Australian interests in the region.”

Mr Morrison said freedom of navigation through international waters was a fundamental right of all states under international law.

“It is in Australia’s interest to work with international partners to uphold these rights,” he said.

“Australian forces will always conduct themselves in accordance with their international legal obligations.”

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Mr Morrison said their contribution would be modest, meaningful and time limited – and part of an international mission.

“Australia will defend our interests wherever they may be under threat,” he said.

“Working with partners, we will play our part in shaping a better future for Australia and Australians, as well as our region and the world.”

The announcement by Prime minister is supported by Maritime Industry Australia Ltd.

Teresa Lloyd, CEO of MIAL said, “Freedom of navigation and the protection of the ships and seafarers responsible for international trade are ideals worthy of our attention as an island nation reliant upon them.”

MIAL is a member of the International Chamber of Shipping and Asian Shipowners’ Association who have also released a joint statement with the European Community Shipowners’ Association calling for the immediate resolution to the reported seizure of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

Ang Chin Eng, ASA secretary-general said, “The Strait of Hormuz is the only route in and out of the Gulf, and one of the critical shipping lanes for Asian countries that also connects Europe and Asia.

“We therefore urge all countries to completely secure the safe passage by respecting the freedom of navigation and the right of innocent passage as enshrined in the UNCLOS, and to push for a complete de-escalation of tensions in the region.”

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