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Navy 'poised to deploy aircraft carrier to the Red Sea' after Houthi attacks

The HMS Queen Elizabeth (Crown copyright / UK Ministry of Defence 2023)
The HMS Queen Elizabeth (Crown copyright / UK Ministry of Defence 2023)

Britain could send an aircraft carrier to the Red Sea amid drone and missile strikes from Houthi rebels, according to reports.

The Royal Navy could send an aircraft carrier to “plug a gap” when the USS Dwight D Eisenhower returns to the States after patrols in the vital shipping lane, the Telegraph reported.

Armed Forces minister James Heappey said on Tuesday that the UK “may cooperate with the Americans,” in plugging “a gap”.

The paper reported one of the UK’s two aircraft carriers designed to carry F-35 fighter jets could be sent - the HMS Prince of Wales, or the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The Houthis have repeatedly launched attacks on vessels around the Red Sea over Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza, although they have frequently targeted ships with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, endangering shipping on a key global trade route.

A second series of UK and US air strikes, carried out last week, appears to have done little to thwart their action.

The US has carried out the majority of strikes on Houthi targets with support from RAF planes based 1,500 miles away.

It comes after the Iranian-backed militants attacked the HMS Diamond on Saturday.

Crew on the ship successfully repelled a drone strike in the Red Sea, with no injuries or damage.

On Friday, a British-linked oil tanker went up in flames after an strike claimed by the Yemen-based group.

The Ministry of Defence earlier branded ongoing action by the Houthis as “intolerable and illegal” and said Britain and its allies “reserve the right to respond appropriately”.

Britain has called for Iran to de-escalate tensions in the region after a drone strike in Jordan killed three US troops, which the White House has linked to Iranian-backed groups. Iran has denied involvement.

President Joe Biden has vowed that the US “shall respond” to the drone strike near the Syrian border.

Mr Biden said in a written statement that the US “will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner (of) our choosing”.