Britain says a Royal Navy ship has shot down an attack drone over the Red Sea

UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps says HMS Diamond fired a Sea Viper missile and destroyed a drone that was targeting merchant shipping

By AP

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An iImage of HMS Diamond firing its Sea Viper missile to engage and shot down an aerial drone over the Red Sea. — AP
An iImage of HMS Diamond firing its Sea Viper missile to engage and shot down an aerial drone over the Red Sea. — AP

Published: Sat 16 Dec 2023, 7:03 PM

A Royal Navy warship has shot down a suspected attack drone targeting commercial ships in the Red Sea, Britain’s defence secretary said on Saturday.

Grant Shapps said that HMS Diamond fired a Sea Viper missile and destroyed a drone that was “targeting merchant shipping". The overnight action is the first time the Royal Navy has shot down an aerial target in anger since the 1991 Gulf War.

Shapps said attacks on commercial ships in the global trade artery by Yemen’s Houthi rebels “represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security".

“The UK remains committed to repelling these attacks to protect the free flow of global trade,” he said in a statement.

Global shipping has become a target during the war between Israel and Hamas. The Houthis have launched a series of attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, as well as launching drones and missiles targeting Israel.

A view of the HMS Diamond off the coast of Scotland in October, 2020. — AP file
A view of the HMS Diamond off the coast of Scotland in October, 2020. — AP file

Houthi rebels said they fired a barrage of drones on Saturday toward the port city of Eilat in southern Israel. The announcement came hours after Egypt’s state-run media reported that Egyptian air defence had shot down a “flying object” off the Egyptian resort town of Dahab on the Red Sea.

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Earlier this month, three commercial ships in the Red Sea were struck by ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled Yemen, and a US warship shot down three drones during the assault, the US military said.

On Friday, Maersk, the world’s biggest shipping company, told all its vessels planning to pass through the Bab Al Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea to “pause their journey until further notice” after a missile attack on a Liberian-flagged cargo ship.

HMS Diamond was sent to the region two weeks ago as a deterrent, joining vessels from the US, France and other countries.


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