File - This file photo taken on August 16, 2010 shows the US patrol Coastal ships USS Thunderbolt (PC 12) (L)and USS Squall (PC 7) (R)as they transit from Khalifa Bin Salman Port to Mina Salman Pier near Bahrain. / AFP / US NAVY / HO
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Britain opened its first permanent military base in the Middle East in more than four decades Thursday in the Gulf state of Bahrain, giving the U.K. an expansive presence along key international shipping routes.The U.K. Naval Support Facility can house up to 500 Royal Navy personnel, including sailors, soldiers and airmen, in a region where maritime security ensures oil shipments and goods make it from Asia to Europe. The British first established the HMS Juffair base in 1935 in Bahrain, but the U.S. took over the base after the small island nation gained its independence from the British Empire in 1971 .The name was changed to U.K. Naval Support Facility Thursday.
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