BASRA, Iraq, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The British Royal Navy stressed the importance of training operations with its Iraqi counterpart along the waterways at the Iraqi naval base at Umm Qasr.
The Ministry of Defense described the operations there as a significant link to the Iraqi economy as the Khawr al-Amaya and Basra oil terminals in the south of Iraq account for roughly 90 percent of the gross domestic product of Iraq.
British Royal Navy Capt. Richard Ingram described a bustling port and increased trade activity as the security situation in the country progresses.
"The increased maritime traffic within the commercial port and substantial oil exports from the two (oil terminals) in the Gulf generate a large proportion of Iraq's GDP, and this, in turn, clearly emphasizes the importance of a proficient and enduring Iraqi maritime force in a stable Iraq," Ingram said.
He warned that if his training officers were to redeploy along with the rest of British forces based in Basra, Iraqi naval forces would face serious challenges in securing the ports.
"If we were to leave this summer along with all other (British) forces, then I assess that, although limited maritime operations would continue, there would be a considerable delay to Iraqi navy forces achieving full and effective operations across the full spectrum of required capability," he said.
There are 90 members of the Royal Navy training Iraqi forces alongside members of coalition forces.