UK shoots down suspected attack drone targeting merchant ships in Red Sea

British warship HMS Diamond shot down a suspected attack drone that was targeting merchant ships in the Red Sea, UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement Saturday. 

“Overnight, HMS Diamond shot down a suspected attack drone which was targeting merchant shipping in the Red Sea. One Sea Viper missile was fired and successfully destroyed the target,” Shapps stated.

"The recent spate of illegal attacks represents a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security in the Red Sea," Shapps said, adding that “the UK remains committed to repelling these attacks to protect the free flow of global trade.”

According to British Naval chief Ben Key, the HMS Diamond was deployed at short notice from Portsmouth on England's south coast two weeks ago.

Key outlined that roughly one sixth of the world's commercial shipping passes through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait and the Red Sea.

“The Royal Navy is committed to upholding the right to free use of the oceans and we do not tolerate indiscriminate threats or attacks against those going about their lawful business on the high seas,” Key stated.

Some background: Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi forces have been targeting commercial ships in the Red Sea, claiming the attacks as revenge against Israel. Houthi forces struck two commercial ships on Friday and threatened to attack a third, according to the US Central Command. 

As a result of the “escalated security situation,” Danish shipping and logistics firm Maersk paused all its shipping through the Red Sea on Friday. German container shipping line Hapag-Lloyd also announced Friday that it is pausing routes through the Red Sea for three days

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