The first Royal Navy establishment overseas in nearly half a century will be ready for sailors and marines to move into by November, the Royal Navy said.
Workers are on track to complete the future HMS Jufair in Bahrain that will provide accommodation, welfare and support facilities for up to 300 military personnel and RN/RFA ships operating in the Gulf.
The team behind the complex – it’s the Mina Salman Support Facility until commissioned – stress that Jufair will not be a naval base. There are no dry docks here. It’s purely for support: accommodation, admin, workshops, warehouses.
And it is not British soil unlike, say, the bases on Cyprus, rather Bahraini land donated by its king to Britain.
It has its limitations too.
HMS Queen Elizabeth will not be able to come alongside at Mina Salman – it’s too shallow; she’ll have to anchor nearby, like the US super-carriers when they make their rare port visits. But the facilities will be able to cater for the new carrier – and better support all British ships in theatre.
This time last year, workers were still clearing away old sheds and warehouses. Today several three-storey cream accommodation blocks have risen on the site, plus a waterfront storage and engineering complex, clustered around a central welfare/recreation/entertainment complex.
The complex is designed to accommodate just over 300 people, or nearly 550 for short periods if the transit block is used and empty bed spaces across the site are occupied. And two VIP suites have been allocated for senior visitors.
“Getting a first permanent facility since 1971 is a massive step forward,” says Cdr Jim Morley, project manager. “Moving everyone on to one site will make a big difference. It will allow Naval personnel to reinvigorate their sense of esprit de corps.”
“This is going to be a major facility in the Middle East. These are the bricks and mortar that show our commitment to this region.”