The controversial Freedom Convoy has finally arrived at the Eastern Approaches of the Strait of Barbary as it prepares to assemble and then sail through the Strait. The Strait has been a source of recent tension between the Imperial Government and the Empire of Jingdao. The vessels involved in the Convoy are protesting Jingdao’s imposition of a toll through the previously international strait which they believe is designed to punish them for being successful merchants in the area and non-Jingdaoese.
The Third Consulate has again expressed its concern over the issue of the vessels provoking Jingdao, a government which it calls “rash and prone to erratic behaviour.” Jingdao have attempted to play down the significance of the movement of vessels in recent news stories, claiming that the ships had already sailed through the Strait and had been welcomed with open arms by the Jingdaoese Government. When this was mentioned to the self-proclaimed Commorodore Dejillo he is reported to have relayed the newstory to all those in the Convoy as a morale boost. It is highly unlikely and nearly impossible for the Convoy to have sailed through the Strait so quickly said many maritime experts.
It is thought that the Imperial Navy has considered using the recently refitted HIMS Benavides to sail to deter the convoy from provoking the Jingdaoese Government by sailing through the Strait without their permission. However, the Fourth Consulate appears to have been advised by the Third Consulate that such a move to attempt to defuse the situation may just make it worse. It is unknown how the Jingdaoese Government would react to a powerful Alexandrian vessel sailing at full steam towards the Strait, even if announcing its intentions plainly. The Imperial Government has again advised the Freedom Convoy not to undertake this move.