Royal Navy destroyer sent to Gulf to combat wider Middle East war threat posed by Iran

Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond leaves Portsmouth last year (PA Wire)
Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond leaves Portsmouth last year (PA Wire)

Britain has sent the Royal Navy ship HMS Diamond to join a US-led operation to deter Iran from using the Israel-Hamas conflict to spark a wider Middle East war.

The destroyer will "work to deter escalations from malign and hostile actors who seek to disrupt maritime security", Britain said, conducting operations to ensure freedom of navigation, reassure merchant vessels and ensure the safe flow of trade.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat told Sky News: "We have regularly put ships in places of need in order to make sure that we are protecting our interests and supporting our allies.

"Ships offer many different services including the ability to counter different threats to our partners.

"You will have seen in recent weeks Iranian-made cruise missiles were fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen all the way up the Red Sea aimed at Israel.

"American warships brought them down.

"We are looking to make sure that we are part of the American-led grouping that is looking to protect and support peace and our partners in the region including countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt and many others whom we have been working with."

The USS Thomas Hudner, an American Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, last week downed several one-way attack drones over the Red Sea that had been fired towards Israel by Houthi rebels.

The Galaxy Leader cargo ship was also seized by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis in the southern Red Sea earlier this month.

Britain already has the frigate HMS Lancaster, three mine hunters and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship in the region.

HMS Diamond is equipped to particularly counter aerial threats, with its Sea Viper air-defence system which can track more than 2,000 targets and control several Asper missiles in the air at the same time.

The US, UK and other allies have sent forces to the region to deter Iran from using the terror group Hezbollah, which it supports in Lebanon, or the Houthi rebels in Yemen to trigger a wider Middle East conflict from the Israel-Hamas war.

One concern is that a missile or drone attack could be unleashed against Saudi Arabia, a western ally, or another Gulf state to spark such a larger war.