HMS Diamond returns to UK after protecting shipping from Houthi attacks

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond has returned to Portsmouth after six months in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden helping to protect shipping from attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The warship shot down nine drones and a Houthi missile, sailing nearly 44,000 miles and spending 151 days at sea, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

HMS Diamond operated in the region in December and January – when it came under fire from Iran-backed Houthi forces on three separate occasions – before returning again in March, taking over protection duties from frigate HMS Richmond.

HMS Richmond
Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond left Plymouth at the beginning of January (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Type 45 destroyer was welcomed back to its homeport of Portsmouth on Saturday, with some family members of the crew sailing with the ship as it came into port.

Defence Secretary John Healey said: “As HMS Diamond returns from deployment protecting international shipping for all nations in the Red Sea, I would like to thank the crew for their exceptional service.

“Their professionalism and dedication have helped ensure global trade continues to flow, protecting this country and our economy.”

On January 9, the ship used its Sea Viper missiles to shoot down seven drones aimed at merchant vessels by the Houthis which, according to the MoD, is the most aerial threats neutralised by a Royal Navy warship in modern times in one day.

Recalling that night, Lieutenant Freddy Hamblin, Diamond’s Officer of the Watch 4, said: “As they closed on us the apprehension and excitement built and it was great to see the crew’s training kicking in.

“When US Navy units began engaging the sky lit up with orange sparks like fireworks. When you engage with Sea Viper, the whole bridge shakes and there’s a bright flash and a loud whoosh, followed by silence and darkness.”

In April, HMS Diamond shot down a missile launched by the Houthi group targeting a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

The MoD described the successful takedown as a “landmark moment”, adding “never has a British ship, aircraft or otherwise engaged a target travelling so fast”.

HMS Diamond company
HMS Diamond shot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen (LPhot Chris Sellars/MoD Crown copyright/PA)

The Yemen-based Houthi group has targeted shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, claiming its actions are in response to Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza – an assertion dismissed by the UK and allies.

Members of the crew on board the HMS Diamond told of their pride in the work they did in the Middle East deployment and of their excitement to return home to loved ones.

Nas Naseem, Able Rating (Above Water Tactical), said: “We made history working with coalition nations and Diamond’s presence has definitely saved lives.

“It feels good to be returning home – I never thought I would say this but I’m excited to experience what I hope is a cold and rainy summer. What I’m looking forward to most is spending time with the family and watching the Euros.”

Leading Writer Ben Maple said: “To know we saved lives will stay with me forever.

“After only seeing my loving wife and three children for four weeks since September 2023, I am looking forward to seeing my children smile and to see how much they have grown.

“As for my wife, Emma who has been mum and dad for months, I’m looking forward to just being around her, and we are overdue a date night.”

In total, the destroyer has been deployed for 10 months and has been involved in other activities across that time, including seizing 2.4 tonnes of drugs in the Indian Ocean.

Commanding Officer, Commander Peter Evans, said: “The sailors onboard HMS Diamond have been fantastic – through the 10 months we’ve been away, they have demonstrated courage, professionalism and the very best of teamwork.

“Whether it be operating as part of the Carrier Strike Group within the Arctic Circle, fighting in the Red Sea to protect merchant seafarers’ lives or conducting counter narcotic operations; every success that Diamond has achieved for the RN and UK Defence is due to her ship’s company.

“We’re now really excited to be home with our friends and families, whose support has been absolutely critical to us on board.”