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New Saudi corvette patrolling Bab al-Mandab

Al-Jubail arrives at King Faisal Naval Base in Jeddah on 25 August. (SAMI)

The Royal Saudi Naval Forces' (RSNF's) new corvette Al-Jubail is conducting patrols near the Bab al-Mandab Strait as part of an enlarged Saudi commitment to Coalition Task Force (CTF) Sentinel, the US 5th Fleet announced on 28 September.

It said that the RSNF's Western Fleet, which is based at Jeddah and operates in the Red Sea, has joined CTF Sentinel, which is the operational arm of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) that the United States formed after a series of suspected Iranian attacks on commercial vessels in 2019.

While Saudi Arabia was already a member of the IMSC, the 5th Fleet's announcement clarified that only the RSNF's Eastern Fleet, which is based at Al-Jubail in the Gulf, was earlier involved. The other members include Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

“As the Western Fleet joins with IMSC, we are able to bring reassurance to our maritime industry partners as they transit the Bab al-Mandab Strait into the Red Sea,” said Commodore Ben Aldous, the British officer who currently commands CTF Sentinel.

The first of four Avente 2200 corvettes that Navantia is delivering for the Western Fleet, Al-Jubail arrived in Jeddah from Spain on 25 August, increasing the RSNF's patrol capabilities in the Red Sea. Satellite imagery shows it was at King Faisal Naval Base on 25 September.

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