Australia has agreed to join a U.S.-led naval contingent protecting commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman amid alleged attacks by Iran against vessels operating in the strategic waterways.

Australia will join Britain and Bahrain as part of a maritime security mission to escort commercial shipping in the region, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Wednesday. He said his government would lend a frigate, patrol plane and specialist defense force personnel.

Canberra’s contribution was meant to be “modest, meaningful and time limited,” Morrison said.

Initially, Australia’s contribution will last just six months, although it could be extended, he said.

“We can’t predict the future, we can only plan. And we can only base commitments on the situation as we understand it,” the prime minister said.

A P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance plane will join the mission before the end of the year and a Royal Australian Navy frigate will deploy with the security flotilla in January for six months, he said.

The U.S. blames Iran for attacks against international shipping in and around the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow conduit that separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman through which much of the world’s supply of oil passes.

“This destabilizing behavior is a threat to Australia’s interests in the region,” Morrison said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Source » npr