HMS Diamond, which had been on station near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait for months as the Houthis in Yemen attacked shipping moving through the region repeatedly, is now sporting kill marks from its time on station.
The Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyer pulled in Gibraltar yesterday after coming off station and heading into the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. She was replaced in the Red Sea by the Type 23 Frigate HMS Richmond which is now serving as the United Kingdom's main contribution to Operation Prosperity Guardian.
The images come to us from Michael Sanchez who keeps a close eye on naval happenings around Gibraltar.
During its time in what became a very hostile stretch of water, Diamond shot down nine drones, some of which appeared to have been targeting the ship itself. Sea Viper surface-to-air missiles and the ship's guns were used to engage the drones. These feats are highlighted by the silhouettes of painted on the destroyer's bridge wings.
The exact drones depicted are not definitive, but they do represent certain familiar configurations. The traditional fixed-wing configuration with a pusher propeller, similar to the Sammad-type kamikaze drones, are shown in seven silhouettes. Another shows a Shahed-136-like delta-wing kamikaze drone. There is also a marking of what is likely a larger twin-tail boom reconnaissance drone, some of which U.S. Central Command has indicated are operated in the region by Iran directly.
The Ministry of Defense said the following about HMS Diamond's recent actions:
“The destroyer came under fire in three separate attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, successfully destroying nine drones using her world-class Sea Viper missile system and guns.
The UK continues to be at the forefront of the international response to the Houthis’ illegal attacks on commercial shipping – participating in Operation Prosperity Guardian, intercepting weapon-smuggling to Yemen, imposing sanctions to hold members of the Houthis to account and conducting necessary, proportionate and targeted strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen.”
The Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyers are now set to receive anti-ballistic missile defense capabilities. The news of this upgrade hit during the heat of the action, with the Houthis firing dozens of anti-ship ballistic missiles at ships transiting the region. You can read more about this initiative here.
While kill and mission markings are a well known practice on combat aircraft and even ground-based air defense units, it's a less known practice on warships, but it's certainly not unheard of and there and it has its own rich tradition.
HMS Diamond left its home port in Portsmouth in November and is heading home with a lot to be proud of.
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