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Royal Navy warship downs ballistic missile fired from Yemen

Royal Navy Type-45 destroyer HMS Diamond shot down an anti-ship ballistic missile fired from Yemen by the Iran-backed Houthis over the Gulf of Aden on 24 April.

The missile was targeting the merchant vessel MV Maersk Yorktown when it was intercepted and shot down by HMS Diamond’s Sea Viper missile system.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that “on April 24, a coalition vessel successfully engaged one anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) launched from Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist-controlled areas in Yemen over the Gulf of Aden. The ASBM was likely targeting the MV Yorktown, a U.S.-flagged, owned, and operated vessel with 18 U.S. and four Greek crew members. There were no injuries or damage reported by U.S., coalition, or commercial ships.”

The Principle Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS), known as Sea Viper in UK service, is a ship-based air and missile defence system that can engage tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, combat aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The system is currently deployed on two French Horizon-class frigates, two Italian Horizon-class frigates, and six British Type-45 destroyers.

The shootdown marks the first time since the 1991 Gulf War that the Royal Navy has successfully engaged a missile in combat and is the first time that a Royal Navy warship has shot down a ballistic missile.

Commanding Officer of HMS Diamond, Commander Peter Evans, said: “I’m immensely proud of the ship’s company, whose professionalism meant they were able to react in a split second to defeat the threat today. As ever, Diamond is ready to protect sea-farers and ensure the freedom of the seas.”

UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “I want to thank the brave crew of HMS Diamond for her vital role in saving innocent lives and protecting international shipping from illegal Houthi attacks.

“The UK continues to be at the forefront of the international response to the Iranian-backed Houthis’ dangerous attacks on commercial vessels, which have claimed the lives of international mariners.”

On Wednesday, the Houthis claimed to have attacked the US ship Maersk Yorktown and an American destroyer in the Gulf of Aden.

Since November, Houthi forces have been engaging in aggressive actions against ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, carrying out drone and missile attacks on vessels traversing crucial shipping lanes. The rebel group, supported by Iran, holds significant control over Yemen and has previously stated that their assaults target ships associated with Israel, as a response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of DefenceToday.com. Neil is also the editor of other online publications covering military history, defence and security. He can be found on Twitter: @NeilRitchie86.

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