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SBS to protect British Commandos ready ships from the Iranians for deadly missions
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.
A small number can have a major impact
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”.