HMS Richmond takes over from HMS Diamond to protect shipping in the Red Sea
As Houthi attacks against commercial vessels continue, Royal Navy warship HMS Richmond takes over from HMS Diamond to ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.
HMS Diamond joined Operation Prosperity Guardian, an international task force to protect merchant shipping in the region, in December and has maintained a near constant presence in a ‘high threat area’ of the Red Sea. The destroyer came under fire in three separate attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, successfully destroying nine drones using her world-class Sea Viper missile system and guns.
The UK continues to be at the forefront of the international response to the Houthis’ illegal attacks on commercial shipping – participating in Operation Prosperity Guardian, intercepting weapon-smuggling to Yemen, imposing sanctions to hold members of the Houthis to account and conducting necessary, proportionate and targeted strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen.
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 as HMS Richmond takes over her important mission. HMS Richmond, which left Plymouth at the beginning of January, has a crew of 200 sailors and Royal Marines and a Sea Ceptor missile system, capable of protecting shipping spread out across an area the size of Greater Manchester – some 500 square miles of ocean.
HMS Richmond is also armed with a range of medium guns, machine-guns, small arms, torpedoes, a Royal Marines boarding team, and a Wildcat helicopter which can search vast areas on patrols for hostile threats on the water – and destroy them if necessary with Martlet anti-ship missiles.
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 re-supply period before we get back to our mission in the Red Sea."
HMS Diamond has sailed nearly 20,000 nautical miles on patrols since leaving Portsmouth at the end of November – almost enough to carry her around the globe – while her 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.