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19 Dec 2023

HMS Diamond joins new international task force to protect shipping in the Red Sea

HMS Diamond joins new international task force to protect shipping in the Red Sea
UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023 / All images are used for illustrative purposes only.
UK Ministry of Defence Press Release

Royal Navy Destroyer HMS Diamond joins Operation Prosperity Guardian, a new international task force to protect merchant shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

As Houthi attacks against commercial vessels continue, Royal Navy Destroyer HMS Diamond has joined Operation Prosperity Guardian, a new international task force to ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Alongside HMS Diamond, the task force currently includes three US destroyers, and a French warship is also in the region. All are currently operating in the Southern Red Sea with the multinational partnership focusing on protecting freedom of navigation, international trade and human life by countering illicit non-state actors in international waters. Countries including Bahrain, Norway and the Seychelles are also supporting the Operation.

The security situation in the Red Sea is deteriorating, with the Houthi attacks - including use of ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial systems against global shipping - representing an increased threat. Over the last few days, the impact on global trade has become more acute, with major operators including Maersk and BP pausing sailing through the region due to the security risk, increasing costs and adding time to journeys.

The Defence Secretary joined a virtual call this morning with his US counterpart and around 20 other Defence Ministers from across the globe to discuss the launch of Operation Prosperity Guardian. During the meeting, Ministers agreed that this was an international problem that affects all of global trade and risked severe economic consequences, and agreed to work together on an international solution.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:

These illegal attacks are an unacceptable threat to the global economy, undermining regional security and are threatening to drive up fuel prices.

This is an international problem that requires an international solution. That is why HMS Diamond has joined Operation Prosperity Guardian. This new task force will protect shipping and vital trade routes in the Red Sea, where large amounts of goods and oil transit through to Europe and on to the UK.

Our Royal Navy personnel are protecting British interests in an increasingly contested part of the world. Their valuable contribution to upholding peace and security should not be underestimated and we thank them for their service, especially during this festive period.

HMS Diamond arrived in the Red Sea at the weekend after the Defence Secretary authorised her deployment on 30th November to protect and support key shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Gulf. The warship, one of the Royal Navy’s most advanced, shot down a suspected attack drone on Saturday morning which was targeting merchant shipping in the Red Sea.

Her deployment follows increasing concerns over maritime security at narrow sea trade routes worldwide, known as chokepoints. The ship is part of the UK’s commitment to supporting security in the region and the global maritime commons.

The waters of the Gulf are vital routes for merchant shipping, including for tankers carrying much of the UK’s supply of liquefied natural gas. Around 50 large merchant ships each day pass through the Bab-el-Mandeb, connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, while around 115 major merchant ships pass through the Strait of Hormuz.

This international coalition will operate as part of the existing construct in the Gulf: the Coalition Maritime Force (CMF). The UK contribution to that is known as Operation Kipion, which is the UK’s long-standing maritime presence in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. In addition to HMS Diamond, HMS Lancaster, a squadron of three mine hunting vessels (HMS Bangor, HMS Chiddingfold, and HMS Middleton) and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship (RFA Cardigan Bay) are also deployed as part of the operation, helping to keep the vital trade routes of the Middle East open for business.

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