Royal Navy frigate replaces HMS Diamond in Red Sea

Destroyer returns for rearming as HMS Richmond takes over maritime protection in the face of Houthi attacks

HMS Richmond will be deployed in the Red Sea temporarily while HMS Diamond is restocked. PA
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HMS Richmond has temporarily taken over the protection of maritime trade in the Red Sea as Houthi attacks on shipping lanes continue.

The frigate replaces HMS Diamond, which has used the Sea Viper missile system to intercept drones used by the Yemeni militants several times throughout its deployment in the area.

HMS Diamond will now be rearmed before heading back into action in the Red Sea.

Meanwhile, a British-owned cargo vessel was attacked in the Red Sea shortly after midnight on Tuesday, the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said.

The UKMTO said the ship's master was "aware of a small craft on his port side" before a projectile was fired at the freighter.

No crew were injured in the attack and the ship sustained some damage to its bridge windows, though it was deemed safe to continue its journey.

Private security firm Ambrey said the vessel was a Barbados-flagged, British-owned cargo ship.

Houthi rebels also targeted the MV Star Nasia, a Marshall Island-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier sailing that was through the Gulf of Aden, inflicting minor damage, US Central Command said.

US and Britain strike dozens of Houthi targets in Yemen

US and Britain strike dozens of Houthi targets in Yemen

In a separate incident, an explosion was reported near a merchant ship about 90km from Aden in Yemen.

The Yemen-based Houthi group has repeatedly targeted shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, claiming its actions are in response to Israel's war on Hamas in Gaza – an assertion dismissed by the UK and allies.

The dangers to ships using the sea routes have forced many travelling between Asia and Europe to divert around the southern tip of Africa instead of using the Suez Canal, increasing costs and delivery times.

The US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian is intended to protect ships using the vital sea lanes.

About 12 per cent of world trade passes through the Bab Al Mandeb, the strait linking the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

Since December, the HMS Diamond destroyer shot down nine drones after coming under fire in three separate attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels during its time as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian.

The vessel's senior officer Commander Peter Evans said: "The situation in the region is fraught and ships in the force are firing on a daily basis. We hand over the baton with our best wishes to the fantastic team on Richmond who we know will do a great job.

"Having deployed at just five days' notice, we're used to quickly switching aim and now our focus is on a short maintenance and ammunition resupply period before we get back to our mission in the Red Sea."

Back in London, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak updated his Cabinet on the latest developments in the region.

He said joint US and UK strikes on the rebel group's bases and infrastructure had had a "significant effect in degrading Houthi capability".

"The Prime Minister added that while we will always act in self-defence to protect freedom of navigation and the safety of British lives at sea, the UK is not seeking confrontation and our fundamental aim is to de-escalate tensions in the region and deter further attacks," his official spokesman said.

"The Foreign Secretary [David Cameron] added that we continue to build a broad coalition of support for the site strikes, with six countries in addition to the UK and the US playing part of the military coalition and 24 countries signing the most recent statement."

Updated: February 07, 2024, 11:19 AM