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There’s a silver lining to the attacks in the Red Sea

Feb 8

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The British warship HMS Diamond is returning home after playing an integral role in Operation Prosperity Guardian. The Royal Navy already has another ship in the Red Sea to take its place.

The U.K.’s Ministry of Defence said the Diamond joined the operation in December, and since then has maintained a near constant presence in the “high threat area” of the Red Sea; defending international shipping lanes from attacks launched by Iranian-backed Houthi militants.

On three separate occasions, the ship and its crew came under direct fire from Houthi drones, but the Diamond is a Type-45 Destroyer. So, it’s not really a surprise it successfully took out all nine threats with its Sea Viper missile system.

Since leaving its home port in November, the HMS Diamond sailed almost 20,000 nautical miles while on patrol. That’s almost enough to circumnavigate the globe. And the ship’s Wildcat helicopter has flown more than 53 hours of sorties over the Red Sea and Aulf of Aden, making its crew the busiest in the Royal Navy.

But the Diamond is slated for a maintenance upgrade and needs to resupply. So, it’s time for the HMS Richmond to take over its defensive duties in the Red Sea, and for its crew to gain some more real-world experience of its own.

The Richmond is a frigate, so it’s a little smaller than the Diamond. However, it carries the Royal Navy’s advanced Sea Ceptor missile system, which can defend about 500 square miles of ocean.

The U.S. Navy also has destroyers in the Red Sea. Five have been named as taking part in direct action against the Houthis: the USS Carney, the USS Thomas Hudner, the USS Mason, the USS Laboon and the USS Gravely. The USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier is also in the region, launching F-35s and F-15 Strike Eagles against the Houthis as well.

And while it’s safe to say both the U.S. and British navies want the Houthis to stop attacking ships, there is a bit of a silver lining to all the at-sea action: it’s great experience for those crews.

Both the U.S. and U.K. navies are known for their high level of training, which keeps sailors battle ready and deployable. But nothing takes the place of real-world experience, and since December, American and British sailors have been getting plenty of it.

And in the next few years, that could prove useful in other parts of the globe. There’s no guarantee Russia won’t expand its war in Ukraine to other European nations, like the Baltics, where naval assets would be needed.

And if China tries to take Taiwan, which is what almost every country in the Pacific is preparing for, then the Chinese navy will play a big role in that operation. However, the Chinese navy is not battle tested. China’s command structure of dividing authority on a ship between a military officer and a political officer has never been proven in combat.

In the Red Sea, however, American and British sailors are showing their skills on a near daily basis. That efficiency of operation and wealth of experience spread across multiple crews cannot be overlooked. Not by Beijing. Not by Moscow, and certainly not by Tehran, which is financing the Houthi attacks in the first place.

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[RYAN ROBERTSON]
LONDON CALLING TO THE FARAWAY SEAS. NOW MAINTENANCE IS DECLARED, SO COME HOME IF YOU PLEASE. THE BRITISH WARSHIP HMS DIAMOND IS RETURNING HOME AFTER PLAYING AN INTEGRAL ROLE IN OPERATION PROSPERITY GUARDIAN.

THE UK SAYS THE DIAMOND JOINED THE OPERATION IN DECEMBER, AND SINCE THEN HAS MAINTAINED A NEAR CONSTANT PRESENCE IN THE HIGH THREAT AREA OF THE RED SEA; DEFENDING INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING LANES FROM ATTACKS LAUNCHED BY IRANIAN-BACKED HOUTHI MILITANTS.

ON THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS, THE SHIP AND ITS CREW CAME UNDER DIRECT FIRE FROM HOUTHI DRONES. BUT THE DIAMOND IS A DESTROYER, SO IT’S NOT REALLY A SURPRISE IT SUCCESSFULLY TOOK OUT ALL NINE THREATS WITH ITS SEA VIPER MISSILE SYSTEM.

SINCE LEAVING ITS HOME PORT IN NOVEMBER, THE DIAMOND SAILED ALMOST 20,000 NAUTICAL MILES WHILE ON PATROL. THAT’S ALMOST ENOUGH TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE THE GLOBE. AND THE SHIP’S WILDCAT HELICOPTER HAS FLOWN MORE THAN 53 HOURS OF SORTIES OVER THE RED SEA AND GULF OF ADEN, MAKING ITS CREW THE BUSIEST IN THE ROYAL NAVY.

BUT THE DIAMOND IS SLATED FOR A MAINTENANCE UPGRADE AND NEEDS TO RESUPPLY. SO, IT’S TIME FOR THE HMS RICHMOND TO TAKE ITS PLACE, AND FOR ITS CREW TO GAIN SOME MORE REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE OF ITS OWN.

THE RICHMOND IS A FRIGATE, SO IT’S A LITTLE SMALLER THAN THE DIAMOND. BUT IT CARRIES THE ROYAL NAVY’S ADVANCED SEA CEPTOR MISSILE SYSTEM, WHICH CAN DEFEND ABOUT 500 SQUARE MILES OF OCEAN.

THE US NAVY ALSO HAS DESTROYERS IN THE RED SEA. FIVE HAVE BEEN NAMED AS TAKING PART IN DIRECT ACTION AGAINST THE HOUTHIS: THE CARNEY, THE THOMAS HUNDER, THE MASON, THE LABOON AND THE GRAVELY. THE USS EISENHOWER AIRCRAFT CARRIER IS ALSO IN THE REGION, LAUNCHING F-35s AND F-15 STRIKE EAGLES AGAINST THE HOUTHIS AS WELL.

AND WHILE IT’S SAFE TO SAY BOTH THE US AND BRITISH NAVIES WANT THE HOUTHIS TO STOP ATTACKING SHIPS, THERE IS A BIT OF A SILVER LINING TO ALL THE AT-SEA ACTION: IT’S GREAT EXPERIENCE FOR THOSE CREWS.

BOTH THE US AND BRITISH NAVIES ARE KNOWN FOR THEIR HIGH LEVEL OF TRAINING. IT KEEPS SAILORS BATTLE READY AND DEPLOYABLE. BUT NOTHING TAKES THE PLACE OF REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE, AND SINCE DECEMBER, AMERICAN AND BRITISH SAILORS HAVE BEEN GETTING PLENTY OF IT.

AND IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, THAT COULD PROVE USEFUL IN OTHER PARTS OF THE GLOBE. THERE’S NO GUARANTEE RUSSIA WON’T EXPAND ITS WAR IN UKRAINE TO OTHER EUROPEAN NATIONS, LIKE THE BALTICS, WHERE NAVAL ASSETS WOULD BE NEEDED.

AND IF CHINA TRIES TO TAKE TAIWAN, WHICH IS WHAT ALMOST EVERY COUNTRY IN THE PACIFIC IS PREPARING FOR, THEN THE CHINESE NAVY WILL PLAY A BIG ROLE IN THAT OPERATION. BUT HERE’S THE THING, THE CHINESE NAVY ISN’T BATTLE TESTED, AND ITS COMMAND STRUCTURE HAS NEVER BEEN PROVEN IN COMBAT.

BUT IN THE RED SEA, US AND BRITISH SAILORS ARE SHOWING THEIR SKILLS ON A NEAR DAILY BASIS. AND THAT EFFICIENCY OF OPERATION AND WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE SPREAD ACROSS MULTIPLE CREWS CANNOT BE OVERLOOKED. NOT BY BEIJING. NOT BY MOSCOW, AND CERTAINLY NOT BY TEHRAN, WHICH IS FINANCING THE HOUTHI ATTACKS IN THE FIRST PLACE.