As tensions in the Red Sea continue to escalate due to Houthi attacks on commercial vessels, the Royal Navy warship HMS Richmond is stepping in to replace HMS Diamond. The move comes as part of the ongoing efforts to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.
HMS Diamond has been an integral part of the U.S.-led Operation Prosperity Guardian since its launch in mid-December. This international task force aims to protect merchant shipping in the region.
Despite receiving fire from Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in three separate incidents, HMS Diamond managed to successfully neutralise nine drones with its advanced Sea Viper missile system and guns.
The UK continues to be at the forefront of combating Houthis’ illegal attacks, including through its participation in Operation Prosperity Guardian, intercepting weapons being smuggled into Yemen, imposing sanctions on the Houthis, and conducting targeted strikes against their military installations in Yemen.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps expressed confidence in HMS Richmond’s capabilities. “The UK is committed to protecting freedom of navigation,” he said. “I am confident that HMS Richmond will carry on the impressive work of HMS Diamond.”
HMS Diamond will now undergo a maintenance and resupply period, as HMS Richmond takes over its critical mission.
HMS Richmond left Plymouth at the beginning of January with a crew of 200 and is equipped with a Sea Ceptor missile system. In addition to medium guns, machine-guns, small arms and torpedoes, HMS Richmond is also equipped with a Royal Marines boarding team and a Wildcat helicopter.
Commander Peter Evans, HMS Diamond’s Commanding Officer, wished his counterparts on HMS Richmond good luck on its mission ahead. “The situation in the region is fraught, and ships in the force are firing on a daily basis,” he said. “We know Richmond’s fantastic team will do a great job.”
HMS Diamond leaves behind an impressive track record. Since leaving Portsmouth at the end of November, it has covered nearly 20,000 nautical miles on patrols, almost equivalent to a round-the-world trip. Its Wildcat helicopter has flown more than 53 hours of sorties over the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, making its crew the busiest in the Royal Navy.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Central Command is reporting multiple recent anti-ship ballistic missile attacks by the Houthis in the Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
On Feb. 6, Iranian-backed Houthi militants fired six anti-ship ballistic missiles from Yemen toward the Southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Three were aimed at MV Star Nasia, a Marshall Island-flagged, Greek owned-and-operated bulk carrier, causing minor damage but no injuries. The USS Laboon intercepted and shot down a third missile. The remaining three missiles targeted MV Morning Tide, a Barbados-flagged, UK-owned cargo ship, but caused no damage or injuries.
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