ABOARD THE HMS TAMAR, Japan -- Two British warships, the HMS Tamar and HMS Spey, are on a five-year deployment to the Indo-Pacific region. Instead of the ships periodically returning to the U.K., the Royal Navy has decided to rotate their crews, dividing them into three teams: white, red and blue. From Tonga to Bangladesh, the vessels have been making port calls across the region, demonstrating a permanent presence.
From the cost of flying the crews back and forth to the diesel that the ships guzzle, as well as the fees the Royal Navy pays dockyards in Japan, Singapore and Hawaii for maintenance, the bill is significant. Yet the Royal Navy's highest-ranking admiral says the operation fits Britain's national interests.