HMS Daring to head for the Gulf
The Navy's newest and most advanced ship is being sent to the Gulf for her first mission amid heightened tensions with Iran over threats by Tehran to block a busy shipping lane.
Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring, which employs a "stealth" design to help avoid detection, is to join the British presence in the region, the Ministry of Defence confirmed.
Although the deployment of the hi-tech vessel has been planned for more than a year, it comes as Britain and allies have issued clear warnings to Iran over its threats.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond warned the regime on Thursday that any attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz would be "illegal and unsuccessful" and would be countered militarily if necessary.
But another set of Revolutionary Guard naval exercises in the strait, which is used by a third of the world's oil tanker traffic, has now been announced for February by Iran.
Tehran has suggested it could block the route if sanctions are imposed on its oil exports by western nations over its perceived ambitions to use its nuclear programme for military purposes.
An MoD spokesman said: "The Royal Navy has had a continuous presence East of Suez for many years, including the Armilla patrol and its successors since 1980.
"While the newly-operational Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring is more capable than earlier ships, her deployment East of Suez has been long planned, is entirely routine and replaces a Frigate on station."
HMS Daring completed four years of sea trials and training late last year and is the first of six new destroyers which will replace the Type 42 vessels which started service in the 1970s.
The vessel, with a crew of 180, is the first to be built with a futuristic design that makes it difficult to detect using radar. The Type 45s are also armed with hi-tech Sea Viper anti-air missiles and will be able to carry 60 troops. They have a large flight deck which can accommodate helicopters the size of a Chinook as well as take on board 700 people in the case of a civilian evacuation.