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Royal Navy Destroyer Targeted Again by Houthi Drone

HMS Diamond launches an air defense missile, Jan. 9 (Royal Navy)
HMS Diamond launches an air defense missile, Jan. 9 (Royal Navy)

Published Jan 28, 2024 3:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond was targeted by a Houthi rebel attack drone, forcing the ship to expend a multimillion-dollar antiaircraft missile to shoot down the incoming threat. 

Diamond used her Sea Viper air defense system to shoot down the incoming drone, with no damage or injuries reported. 

"These intolerable and illegal attacks are completely unacceptable and it is our duty to protect the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea," said UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps in a statement. "We want to thank the brave crew of HMS Diamond for their service to defend British and international interests."

On the same day, U.S. forces identified and destroyed one Houthi antiship missile on the ground in Yemen. According to U.S. Central Command, the missile was aimed at the Red Sea and posed an "imminent threat" to U.S. Navy vessels and merchant ships. 

On Friday, for the first time since their campaign of shipping attacks began in November,  Yemen's Houthi militants directly targeted a U.S. Navy destroyer with a missile. The USS Carney reported that it was targeted by a ballistic missile attack while on patrol in the Gulf of Aden, forcing the ship to shoot down one incoming threat. 

The same day, Houthi forces hit the Trafigura-chartered product tanker Marlin Luanda with a ballistic missile, puncturing one tank and starting a massive fire. Marlin Luanda was carrying naphtha (white gas), a potentially explosive petroleum fraction. The blaze was extinguished Saturday with assistance from the French Navy, U.S. Navy and Indian Navy. No crew injuries were reported. 

HMS Diamond's Sea Viper air defense system is designed for aerial threats but has less capability against ballistic missiles, like those used frequently by the Houthi forces. The UK Ministry of Defence recently announced an investment of $500 million to upgrade the system for improved capability against antiship ballistic missile threats.