The Persian Gulf is relatively shallow and easy to mine so the threat to Britain’s oil supplies has been a concern for many years, ever since the region became a focus for unrest. In August 1961 six TONs from 108 MSS in Malta were deployed to Bahrain as a stop gap measure but as they were without air conditioning in the summer heat and had no maintenance facility within reach, they were quickly withdrawn.
9th MCM Squadron comprising four, open bridge, Mirrlees-engined TONs with rudimentary air conditioning (primarily for the radar and gyro) was commissioned at Portsmouth in June 1962 and arrived on station in Aden in September. A small Tank Landing Craft was taken out of reserve, converted to become a Maintenance and Repair craft and berthed at Mina Suleiman jetty in Bahrain in April 1963. It was soon joined by a second MRC and a local dhow to form a rudimentary Naval base adjacent to Army and RAF facilities where the ships’ crews could partake of some recreation between their intensive programme of minesweeping exercises to ensure uninterrupted passage of oil supplies in the Gulf of Hormuz and operations in support of Army and RAF actions against guerrilla forces in the areas of Oman and Sarjah.
Despite the limited facilities for maintenance and recreation and the uncomfortable living conditions aboard the TONs, 9th MCMS was a popular posting as the state of Bahrain modernised and facilities ashore improved.
In 2018 a modern Joint Services Facility was built in Bahrain to support the imulti-national Mine Clearance Force based in the Gulf with its attendant air and frigate components.