A simple gesture like the gift of a bottle of water – which may seem insignificant for many – goes a long way to building relationships and trust with the seafarers that HMS Kent is here to protect

Commander Ben Ripley, Commanding Officer HMS Kent

Although the Gulf region is synonymous with oil and gas production – it is Kent’s task along with other ships in the 27-nation Combined Maritime Forces to ensure the flow of oil and other goods by sea – and water is a natural source in short supply on some of the smaller dhows in mid summer.

“As the ship’s boarding teams constantly find that for all of the water they ride on, being a mariner in the Gulf is thirsty work,” says Lt Cdr Rooney.

The power of water can be seen first hand as one of HMS Kent’s high speed boats makes an approach to a dhow and offers a litre of fresh cold water, held high like a universal calling card of humanity. The reception is warm, friendly and without barriers.”

Cdr Ben Ripley, HMS Kent’s Commanding Officer, added: “A simple gesture like the gift of a bottle of water – which may seem insignificant for many – goes a long way to building relationships and trust with the seafarers that HMS Kent is here to protect.

“For the Royal Navy the simple gesture of gifting drinking water to break down all barriers is turning out to be one of the most powerful forms of currency in securing safe passage for our way of life.”

Kent is currently attached to Combined Task Force 150, comprising warships from Australia, France and Canada, and working with vessels from Djibouti, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The force provides assurance for the safe passage of merchant vessels of any nationality through the infamous Bab Al Mendab Strait at the foot of the Red Sea and beyond.

It covers some 190,000 square miles of sea – that’s over twice the size of Great Britain – with up to 40 large scale ships passing every hour or, spread over a year, about 40 per cent of all the goods and essential materials Europe needs.