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SBS to pro­tect Bri­tish Com­man­dos ready ships from the Ira­ni­ans for deadly mis­sions

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - News - BY NI­COLA SMALL

ELITE Navy com­man­dos have been sent to pro­tect Bri­tish ships from Ira­nian at­tack, the Sun­day Mir­ror has learnt.

The Spe­cial Boat Ser­vice frog­men are trained to covertly re­move mines from the hulls of war­ships and com­mer­cial ves­sels.

The move comes as ten­sion escalates in the Per­sian Gulf, a key route for the West’s oil sup­plies.

There are fears of a war af­ter the Ira­nian Revolution­ary Guard were ac­cused of at­tack­ing tankers with mines and down­ing a US spy drone.

Amer­ica later re­leased footage of Ira­nian Navy sailors re­cov­er­ing an un­ex­ploded mine from a tanker.

It was re­ported that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump au­tho­rised re­tal­ia­tory mil­i­tary ac­tion, claim­ing his mil­i­tary were “cocked and loaded” be­fore he changed his mind with just 10 min­utes to go.

The SBS have a deadly of­fen­sive role too. They are trained to launch un­der­wa­ter at­tacks and to kill or cap­ture any­one try­ing to sab­o­tage in­ter­na­tional ship­ping.

Senior de­fence sources said the SBS could be us­ing Shal­low Wa­ter Com­bat Sub­mersibles – mini-subs de­ployed by both Bri­tish and US spe­cial forces. The Navy re­cently bought three for £50mil­lion.

They carry up to six peo­ple and can launch and be re­cov­ered from war­ships and full-size sub­marines.

AGENTS

A small num­ber can have a ma­jor im­pact

DE­FENCE SOURCE

ON THE SBS MIS­SION

The mini-subs can also be at­tached to a he­li­copter, and be used land com­man­dos.

Once ashore the SBS can at­tack tar­gets, gather in­tel­li­gence, plant sen­sors, de­liver and re­cover agents or ex­tract those of in­ter­est.

The unit will also be sup­ported by Royal Navy divers trained to defuse mines.

Last Wed­nes­day Iran downed a US sur­veil­lance drone with a mis­sile.

The ten­sion has lead to fears Iran may at­tempt to close the Strait of Hor­muz by mines or sink­ing ships. A senior de­fence source last night told the Sun­day Mir­ror: “The SBS are be­ing sent as part of a de­ter­rent. One of their roles will be to get gather in­tel­li­gence on Ira­nian min­ing.

“It is bet­ter to have them in the area and not need them than the other way around. A small num­ber of men can have a ma­jor strate­gic im­pact. “They work very closely with Royal Navy divers who are the spe­cial­ists at dis­arm­ing mines and pro­tect­ing ship­ping.

“The SBS have a more ag­gres­sive role. Ev­ery­one hopes ten­sion will ease.”

The 400-strong SBS, based at Poole, Dorset, are the Royal Navy equiv­a­lent of the Spe­cial Air Ser­vice. Mainly re­cruited from the Royal Marines, they un­dergo the same rig­or­ous se­lec­tion course as the SAS and have seen ac­tion in Syria, Iraq and Afghanista­n.

The Min­istry of De­fence said: “We do not com­ment on spe­cial forces op­er­a­tions”.

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