Royal Navy commander admits Red Sea crisis is ‘fraught’ as new warship arrived | Politics | News

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Royal Navy commander admits Red Sea crisis is ‘fraught’ as new warship arrived | Politics | News

The Commander of HMS Diamond has admitted the situation in the Red Sea is “fraught” as the warship was replaced on Tuesday.

HMS Richmond arrived in the Middle East and took over responsibility for protecting cargo ships in the region.

Navy chiefs have revealed the Type-23 frigate is armed with Sea Ceptor missiles, which can strike speedboats and other “fast attack crafts”.

While having a shorter range than the Sea Viper missiles used by HMS Diamond, the Royal Navy insisted HMS Richmond can shoot missiles, aircrafts and drones out of the sky in an area the size of Greater Manchester.

Royal Marines have been deployed as part of the vessel’s company.

The Ministry of Defence is hoping the consistent presence of warships in the Red Sea will deter Houthi rebels from attacking cargo ships and tankers transiting through the region.

HMS Diamond 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 in 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.”

Houthi fighters targeted HMS Diamond three times in separate attacks. Royal Navy sailors shot nine drones out of the sky using the Sea Viper missile system.

Officials said the UK “continues to be at the forefront of the international response”, targeting weapons smugglers and conducting airstrikes on Houthi missile launchers.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The UK is committed to protecting freedom of navigation. I visited HMS Diamond in January and thanked the Ship’s Company for their incredible work defending freedom of navigation, saving innocent lives and ensuring merchant shipping is protected from the illegal Houthi attacks.

“I am confident that HMS Richmond will carry on her impressive work.”

HMS Diamond will now undergo a period of maintenance and resupply.

A British-owned cargo vessel was attacked in the Red Sea on Tuesday, the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said.

The attack on the ship happened west of Hodeida in Yemen just after midnight on Tuesday.

The UKMTO said the ship’s master was « aware of a small craft on his port side » before a projectile was fired at the ship.

No crew were injured in the attack and the vessel sustained small damages to its bridge windows, but the ship was deemed safe to continue its journey.

In a separate incident, an explosion was reported close to a merchant vessel around 50 nautical miles from Aden, Yemen.

The Yemen-based Houthi group has 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 shipping using the sea routes have forced many vessels travelling between Asia and Europe to divert around the southern tip of Africa instead of using the Suez Canal, increasing costs and lengthening delivery times.

In Downing Street, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak updated his Cabinet on the latest developments in the region.

He said joint US and UK strikes 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, » the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

« The Foreign Secretary 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 of support. »

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