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UK Deploys One of its Most Advanced Vessels to the Middle East

HMS Diamond destroyer
HMS Diamond, one of the Royal Navy's most advanced vessels, is being deployed to the Middle East (Royal Navy)

Published Dec 1, 2023 8:54 AM by The Maritime Executive

 

One of the Royal Navy’s most advanced vessels, the HMS Diamond, one of the six-member Type 45 destroyers launched a decade ago, is underway to the Middle East. The vessel departed Portsmouth a week ago the Royal Navy reports with a mission to strengthen patrols aimed at ensuring freedom of navigation, reassuring merchant vessels, and ensuring the safe flow of trade.

“Recent events have proven how critical the Middle East remains to global security and stability,” said UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps revealing the deployment on November 29. “From joint efforts to deter escalation, following the onset of the renewed conflict in Israel and Gaza, to now the unlawful and brazen seizure of MV Galaxy Leader by the Houthis in the Red Sea – it is critical that the UK bolsters our presence in the region, to keep Britain and our interests safe from a more volatile and contested world.”

The UK has already stepped up its presence in the region after Iranian vessels harassed merchant ships earlier this year. Shapps highlights the importance of the region noting that each day around 115 major merchant ships pass through the Strait of Hormuz and around 50 large merchant ships pass through the Bab-el-Mandeb connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. While the UK did not reveal the exact departure date, it appears to have come before the most recent incidents and the warning issued to shipping by the UK on Wednesday. 

The Diamond will be joining the HMS Lancaster, an older frigate (built in 1992) that has been deployed to the region since 2022. In addition, 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.

 

The Royal Navy said HMS Diamond departed last week (Royal Navy photo)

 

The Royal Navy highlights that the Diamond was dispatched on short notice. She had just completed three months of operations in Northern Europe with the UK’s Carrier Strike Group. She was providing air defense for the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The destroyer, which is 152 meters (498 feet) in length and displaces 7,350 tonnes, has a top speed of 30 knots. Commissioned in 2011, she carried a normal complement of more than 200 and has a range of 7,000 nautical miles.

The Royal Naval highlights the class was built for anti-aircraft and anti-missile warfare, equipped with some of the most sophisticated long-range and missile detection radar. The SAMPSON system lets the Diamond track threats from over 250 miles away as well as guide friendly missiles. The Sea Viper missile system can launch eight missiles in under 10 seconds and guide up to 16 missiles simultaneously. 

The Diamond is also carrying a Wildcat helicopter with Marlet air-to-surface missiles. The destroyer is armed with a 4.5-inch main gun as well as its sophisticated electronics. She expands the air coverage as the Lancaster is also equipped with a Wildcat helicopter which has been central to her activities since arriving in the region last year. According to the BBC, Lancaster is scheduled to remain on station in the Gulf region until at least 2025.