Royal Navy: UK sends second warship HMS Diamond to the Gulf to 'bolster presence' in the Middle East
The UK is sending a second Royal Navy warship to the Gulf in response to rising tensions in the Middle East, joining the frigate HMS Lancaster. HMS Diamond, a Type 45 destroyer, is en route to bolster deterrence in the region at a dangerous time, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said.
HMS Lancaster has been stationed in the Gulf since last year. It is there alongside three Royal Navy minehunters. Shapps added that HMS Diamond joining the warship is “critical” so that it “bolsters our presence in the region to keep Britain and our interests safe from a more volatile and contested world."
He said that it would send a clear message to Iran and its proxies. The US sent a carrier strike group east of Suez soon after the Hamas-led attacks on 7 October as well as placing a second aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean. A US destroyer in the Red Sea has already been reported to have intercepted missiles and drones.
The Ministry of Defence says the addition of HMS Diamond will ensure the freedom of navigation, reassure merchant vessels and allow the safe flow of trade. A UK-led task force will also soon begin patrols from the English Channel to the Baltic Sea, to protect Europe's critical undersea cables.
The task force of seven ships will set sail early next month, alongside allies, and will mount patrols from the English Channel all the way to the Baltic Sea. Royal Navy vessels will work alongside members of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), which includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Although they've conducted exercises together in the past this will be the first time the JEF has conducted a joint operation.
Shapps did not mention a specific threat but the UK and other nations involved in the JEF have highlighted concerns about the activities of Russian surveillance ships near critical national infrastructure, including wind farms and undersea cables. He described the deployment as historic as allies will be working together "to defend our shared critical infrastructure against potential threats".