HMS Diamond, a Type 45 Destroyer, has joined Operation Prosperity Guardian, a new international task force to protect merchant shipping 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.

The Ministry of Defence say that 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.

British Destroyer downs drone heading for merchant ship

“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 BangorHMS 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.”

Avatar photo
George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

73 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mr Bell
Mr Bell
3 months ago

The alliance might need to undertake a convoy approach to escorting vessels through the transit and danger zones, the Houthis have been supplied with Iranian attack drones and anti-ship missiles.
3 US destroyers + 1 French frigate, Italian destroyer, RN destroyer and possibly a 2nd frigate, Dutch Frigate, Spanish warships (unclear class), Norwegian (assume Aegis class frigate) and with a US carrier battle group in the gulf region should be adequate if the merchant vessels are in convoy.

Colin Brooks
Colin Brooks
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

In terms of the drones at least, surely Martlet would be a cheaper and effective answer.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  Colin Brooks

Tend to agree. With the drive for ever larger, more costly anti air systems to defeat hypersonic weapons and stealthy evading inbound cruise missiles we have lost a graduated response. There is an argument for a cheap system that can defeat drones, like a Bofors 40mm or BAE 56mm gun.
Ideal job for a type 31 frigates.
If only the RN had 10-15 on order rather than just 5.
Hopefully that will get corrected by the next government.

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Can’t see it but still know were your coming from 👍

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Absolutely, the proposed T32 needs to be rolled back to a simple and affordable batch 2 , T31.
A second tranche of 5.

It shows how stretched we are currently, as clearly a T45 isn’t the ideal platform for this job, T31 is literally made to measure for the task, get and bloody deliver them asap!

I think we are going to have to start malleting the launch locations and personnel involved.

This effective act of maritime piracy needs to be stamped out.

Nick C
Nick C
3 months ago
Reply to  Colin Brooks

I believe it’s been used very effectively in Ukraine against KA 25 helos, so it should be effective against a reasonably sized drone.

David
David
3 months ago
Reply to  Colin Brooks

5 mile range means you would need a lot of luck to be in the right place at the right time

Donaldson
Donaldson
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Those 3 US destroyers are being joined by another 3 very soon

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GBjXYt_WcAAESw5?format=jpg&name=900×900

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Getting merchant vessels into a convoy is timely and complex. Especially with the time pressures on merchant vessels. Creating a safe transit corridor is the preferred option.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

It’s not really possible Mr bell the shear tonnage and amount of shipping that transits the Red Sea is immense..you are talking 20,000+ shipping transits a year..and they have to all go through the bottle neck of the Suez Canal…the canal can only generally manage around 50-70 transits a day ( when all goes well max capacity is 97 transits) so you cannot just gather hundreds of ships together and convey them….they would end up with ships sitting for a week at either end of the canal….

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

You could probably convoy each day’s traffic each way. Would be navy intensive but would end up only losing a few hours on average

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

The Daily Telegraph today carries a map showing the Houthi strikes since Nov 19th . They stretch along a straight line route about 250 miles in length which extends north and south from the Bab el Mandeb straits. If we were to station a dozen ships with 10-20 mile range missiles or guns at intervals along this route you could guarantee safe passage….for as along as your ammunition lasted. The 3 US ships are overworked, hence the call for help. I think ‘we’ ( the West) probably need about 10 missile frigates.

Last edited 3 months ago by Paul.P
Mr Bell
Mr Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Between UK, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Germany and France deploying 10 missile armed frigates should be viable. Although for how long could the EU allies maintain that patrol pattern? Probably no more than 6 months.

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

As you say, endurance will be tested, but a coalition of allies will do it. The trick will be to take out the drone factories without the Houthi retaliating by lobbing their Iranian ballistic missiles at the Saudi oil installations. The pressure will be on the Israelis to end their offensive in Gaza. It”s going to be a challenging 2024 but in a year’s time or so the first T31 and the first T26 will be in RN hands, working up, useful numbers of T23 will have NSM and we will have broken the back of the T45 PIP program.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Again, seems that numerous countries are being co-opted, not all announced regarding in what capacity. Effects world trade, including China’s – who, of course, have their own base nearby, though not likely to associate with a US consortium. Want to see what China does; they’ve massive economic skin in the game. Are they primarily based in the Red Sea to protect international trade or to block passage themselves, when suits (I’ve my suspected option!). Either way, do not want to see ‘west’ making all the counters & assuming risks, whilst they sit back and let us exhaust ourselves to their… Read more »

Jon
Jon
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

They would have to be rotated fairly frequently depending on the number of missiles they need to intercept. The talk is of there being 19 countries involved, but that half the countries would rather not have any publicity.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Or, indeed, convoy them with your 4 or 5 ships in pairs covering a convoy. No ASW issue so don’t need as much coverage as a full convoy

Paul Gaunt
Paul Gaunt
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

They need to hit back at the source of attacks, not just hit incoming missiles

Jacko
Jacko
3 months ago

When will we see an allied warship actually open fire on these boats? They have got to be getting very near the threshold!

Frank
Frank
3 months ago
Reply to  Jacko

😱

Last edited 3 months ago by Frank
Jacko
Jacko
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Probably 👍

Marked
Marked
3 months ago

Get a carrier down there and bomb the bastard’s before they launch. It’s why we spent billions building them!

Jacko
Jacko
3 months ago
Reply to  Marked

Agreed but then we will have all the peaceniks saying we have bombed innocent fishermen🙄

Richard2
Richard2
3 months ago
Reply to  Marked

Exactly. It really appears that we are waiting for someone to get killed, before we respond with preventative measures.

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Marked

“5th generation stealth fighter jet drops laser guided bomb on peaceful rebels”

I can see the headlines now

Paul T
Paul T
3 months ago

This crisis shows how much the Type 31’s are desperately needed,they will be well equipped for the Escort of Merchant Ships in the Gulf and the Red Sea.HMS Diamond has a long deployment ahead of her,it will be a while before another T45 can relieve her,hopefully a second T23 can be sent to help out soon.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

We should remember that the Middle East is not really our neck of the woods anymore. Having said that, we do import tanker loads of LNG gas from Quatar tho so it’s good that Diamond is available. I’d like to see her track and shoot down several incoming at the same time tho, it would be good to know that the T45’s actually work after all the propulsion issues

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Mate, we have a massive interest in protecting goods that transit through the Red Sea. Be that for imports and exports. Much of our trade flows through the Red Sea. In terms of importance, it is significantly more important than maintaining trade through the Straights of the Hormuz.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I don’t dispute any of that; we do have an interest. But ever since Suez in 1956 we have lost influence in the whole of the Middle East. The Americans have taken over now

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

David,
Middle East – not our neck of the woods. Why? We still have Op Kipion running.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

With the gradual withdrawal of the Sandown-class minehunters from the Royal Navy, and their planned replacement with autonomous minehunting systems, the configuration of 9 Mine Countermeasures Squadron involved in Kipion is likely to change

Last edited 3 months ago by David Lloyd
Graham Moore
Graham Moore
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Thanks David. I too read that in Wikipedia. ‘Minesweeping’ is just one part of it.
But Lancaster, Diamond and Cardigan Bay are out there and fully three RAF EAWs (in Qatar, UAE, Oman) support the operation. . We also are very interested in the Israel-Gaza conflict and have committed RAF surveillance assets.
So I think we still are interested in the Middle East

Frank
Frank
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

👌

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Wikipedia is a good source of up-to-date information on many defence issues, which is why I just gave them £50. Its not as good as the more specialist Navy Lookout articles

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Thanks David. I agree with you, but have sometimes been castigated for using it!

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Also a permanent littoral strike group based in Oman.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Yes, thanks. So we absolutely have lost no interest in the Middle East. Would be crazy if we had.

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

We have two naval facilities and an airbase in the region, how’s that not our neck of the woods.

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Yeh, I never understood how our gas got under their sand 🙂

Last edited 3 months ago by Paul.P
FieldLander
FieldLander
3 months ago

Interesting to see how long the RN can maintain an enduring 2-ship presence.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  FieldLander

We have supply bases in Oman and Gibraltar, if the crews are rotated like the frigate is at the moment then it could stay out almost indefinitely

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

I think the permanent frigate basing has been a success and we should build on it with a second vessel for sure as quickly as possible. Deploying £1 billion warships from the UK was always going to be a non starter if you want global presence.

When we ran a empire we always forward deployed assets. Some vessels barley ever returned to the UK after being built.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I believe I have made reference to Britain’s past on other articles. I certainly agree that overseas basing is going to be the norm for T31 fleet because of their limited utility in the North Sea where the main threat is subs. Their obvious role is East of Suez, where their gun armament and mechanical simplicity lend themselves to long deployments. The AH140 hull could also be developed into a very useful Offensive Patrol Vessel. Something with a bit more punch than a River (CAMM in place of front 40) and with midships turned into area for carriage of marines… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Everyone keeps lumping all their hopes on the type 31 fleet. That will be, currently, just 5 vessels, which are being built to replace type 23 frigates in service on a direct 1:1 ratio. Ergo if we haven’t got the required warship numbers now, we won’t have them in the future. Unless HMG do something sensible like ordering another 2 batches of type 31s, one optimised for surface strike via NSM, MK41 VLS and a 5 inch gun for NGS and another batch as expert drone and underwater mine warfare/ clearance and ASW work. The RN needs another 10 frigates… Read more »

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Au contraire, I think the way forwards is a class of “porcupine” AH140 based OPVs with CAMM and slightly reduced gun armament, with midships mission bay.
Would be cheap and allow spread of resources and an extra 10 or so without much trouble.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

I think this is what you meant by mine clearance work, could have basic sonar too, I suppose

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

It’s plenty cheap as is. The Mk41 VLS equipped variant is barely 300million. The issue is manpower and staffing. Something the RN won’t solve by buying new warships.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  FieldLander

Answers on a postcard …not long. 2 escorts probably equates to about 25% the available force. Sunak is reported to have stated that the West has taken its eye off the ball and not paid attention to the deteriorating international security situation. No? You don’t say!, what an utter moron. We should have passed a crash rearmaments programme the minute Russia invaded Ukraine. Now Ukraine is up against it, USA support and EU support is wavering. They both secretly want a settlement so they don’t have to fund Ukraine’s inconvenient defence. The West’s assurances and promises have been proven to… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago

It also looks like the pirate issue on the horn or Africa is hotting up again..with increased pirate activity…Somalia is going through an even more hideous time than before so it’s only going to get worse..desperate men will do desperate things. With pirates to port and nutter jihadists with ASMs ballistic missiles and drones to starboard who’s going to want to transit up to the Red Sea.

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

It’s quite the neighborhood now, isn’t it?

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago

interestingly the Houthi jihadists have managed a world first..in that they are the first people to have successively made an attack on shipping using a ballistic missile….

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 months ago

A T31 or any other gun heavy ship is only going to be effective if it itself is targeted or acts as a goalkeeper and sticks itself between the incoming and a drone/asm.

For crossing targets or targets at range beyond the gun its going to need local or area defence systems with missiles. Physics and ballistics are a bitch, but they are immutable laws.

For Surface drones /targets you would be ok with a gun

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

The drones are slow. Less than 200mph. It’s not unthinkable a radar guided gun system could lead it in a perpendicular cross shot at distance. Especially something like the 76mm strales.

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

It will carry CAMM ER though with 40km+ range. 20 years ago something with the reach of CAMM would be considered area defence. Even the best AAW destroyer in the world can’t engage sea skimming targets much further away than 20 miles.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

CAMM mounted in PODS on barges or on unmanned surface vessels?. Enduring presence achieved

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

CAMM requires a surveillance radar and a combat management system. Add the boat and you have a frigate..

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Ideal for the Red Sea & Bab-el-Mandeb, then, in company with other vessels. Assume T45 ought still have space / weight capacity for Bofors 40mm addition at least. Either way, it’s the ‘will carry’ bit that starts to exasperate when you’re already being shot at, and have few such platforms to start with.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Could we mount a load of 40mm Bofors onto floating barges and post large numbers (50+) of them along the red sea and the straights. Ballistic are a bitch, but if you can’t move for 40mm gun platforms covering the choke point that will take the strain off warships. Would need to be manned and have Martlett missiles to defend against boats approaching.
Viable solution for long term presence in the area?

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

When crises is over the barges are towed away. Stripped of weapons and stored for next crises. Such a force of barges could be useful to UK approaches and protection of offshore infrastructure as well as naval bases and port facilities

Frank
Frank
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Off shore Forts were born from similar thinking.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank

And they worked so well.
Everyone always has a go about no defenses for Portsmouth etc naval base. We could always get the Solent forts back in the act with some 40mms and machine guns. I think one is for sale at the moment? Pretty cheap defence wise, around £5m

Frank
Frank
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Not liking that Idea… Logistics and vulnerability with out Radar Systems and 24 hour Mark 1 eyeball required… bugger that for a game of battleships !

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

The risk of piracy by small boats is probably confined to the Bab el Mandeb straits. The coast of Yemen borders the Red Sea north of Bab el Mandeb for about 200-250 miles. I would see that being the high risk area for drone attacks; maybe stretch it s bit further for drones launched from the Sana area. Zonal defence is the way to go rather than man to man marking – too much ship traffic. Station 10x Type 31 or T23 Camm systems or equivalent 25 miles apart and that should do it, Maybe a T45 or equivalent at… Read more »

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul.P

should only take another 15 years to build 10x type 31

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Quite. Just as well the US is calling for an international coalition.
Can’t escape the evidence though; we do need a bigger navy. I see the Times front page today carries an article reporting that Radakin and other defence chiefs are saying they are being muzzled by Sunak.

Frank
Frank
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Yes, exactly, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time…. It’s a big old Sea.

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Pitti we don’t have a Big navy 😕

John
John
3 months ago

Way past Tomahawk time.

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 months ago
Reply to  John

Predator out of Camp Lemonnier would be favourite. The tricky bit will be detecting where the Houthi are building the drones. Also the ballistic missiles they have are mobile – launched from trucks. These Houthi strikes confirm just how valuable were the Mojave trials on Prince of Wales; persistent surveillance and surgical strike.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul.P

So a carrier deployment is needed to target these ill meaning bunch of bandits.

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

The geography is a killer. The Gulf bases are 1000 miles from the action. The US does have RQ4 Global Hawk in Al-Dhafra – high altitude persistence reconnaissance. But it and any air strike from the Gulf would have to fly over Saudi territory. The US does have a base in Djibouti I think but its mostly troops; they have a carrier group there anyway. Predator would be suitable – it can strike which RQ4 cannot: but it has less range than RQ4. The Houthi can operate like Hamas, hiding drone assembly and firing the ballistic missiles from trucks. So… Read more »

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Carrier drone deployment. The cost of operating F-35 in an anti-rebel CAS patrol mode would be absurd. Most days pass with nothing happening, until they back a truck up to the beach.

Steve
Steve
3 months ago

This is where arming the wedgetails with long range air to air missiles could add value. 240mile range on their radar would be a game changer if supported by missiles with similar range. There aren’t any such missiles today but combining the tech from glide bombs could work, as their targets won’t be fast moving if they are countering drones.