British navy ship HMS Diamond shot down an attack drone suspected of targeting merchant shipping in the Red Sea, as attacks on mercantile vessels in the area have increased, U.K. Defense Minister Grant Shapps said on Saturday.
The combat ship destroyed the drone with a Sea Viper missile, Shapp said in a statement on X. “The ship recently arrived in the region to bolster international efforts to maintain maritime security,” he added.
An increasing number of attacks carried out by the Houthi rebel group on commercial vessels in the Red Sea is forcing many companies to re-route their ships to avoid being targeted. MSC Mediterranean Shipping, the world’s largest container line, said on Saturday it would redirect its container ship MSC Palatium III after it was attacked in the Red Sea.
The announcement follows similar moves by Denmark’s Maersk and Germany’s Hapag Lloyd, which announced on Friday they had instructed their vessels to avoid the area, according to media reports. The disruptions are likely to increase shipping times and freight costs.
The Yemen-based Houthis have been attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea in response to Israel’s military operation in Gaza. They said they would target any ship travelling to Israel, irrespective of its nationality, to put pressure on the country to end the hostilities.
On Friday, two Liberian-flagged ships were attacked by drones in the Bab al-Mandab Strait on Friday, Reuters reported, citing U.S. military sources.
The attacks represent a “direct threat” to international commerce and maritime security, Shapps said. “The U.K. remains committed to repelling these attacks to protect the free flow of global trade.”
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