Britain's Prince Charles has inaugurated part of a new British naval base in Bahrain, its first there since pulling out of the island kingdom in 1971.

The Prince of Wales' visit Thursday to the Mina Salman Support Facility comes amid criticism of Bahrain for engaging in a crackdown on dissent, the likes of which has been unseen since the island's 2011 Arab Spring.

Prince Charles later visited the HMS Middletown docked at the base.

The British Defense Ministry estimates the base will cost the United Kingdom at least 6.4 million pounds ($7.9 million), with Bahrain covering the rest.

Prince Charles is on a three-nation tour of the Gulf with his wife Camilla. They previously visited Oman and the United Arab Emirates.