Britain to send eight warships on missions amid fears Russia and Gaza war could spiral into global conflict

Britain to send eight warships on missions amid fears Russia and Gaza war could spiral into global conflict

BRITAIN is sending eight warships on missions – from the Baltic to the Gulf – amid fears that Russian meddling and Gaza war could spiral into global conflict.

HMS Diamond, a guided missile destroyer, will steam through the Suez Canal in a show of force to Hamas backers Iran.

Paul EdwardsHMS Diamond will head into the Suez Canal in a show of force to Hamas-backers Iran[/caption]

The Type 45 destroyer is one of the Navy’s most powerful warships armed with dozens of Sea Viper missiles that can intercept rockets, jets, drones and intercontinental ballistic missiles up to 75 miles away.

Combined with the vessel’s Samson radar the ship can track up to 1,000 objects the size of small as a tennis ball travelling three times the speed of sound.

Its mission follows a spate of attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

They hijacked a cargo ship on Nov 19 and fired missiles and drones at Israel and a US warship the USS Mason.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said HMS Diamond’s main mission was to act as a “deterrent” to Iran.

He said: “Iran, under the wrong circumstances, may try to stir this all up.”

He added: “It is critical that the UK bolsters our presence in the region, to keep Britain and our interests safe.”

HMS Defender will join the frigate HMS Lancaster, three Royal Navy mine hunters and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship already in the region.

Separately, a fleet of frigates, gunboats and mine hunters, will set sail within in days to defend undersea cables in the Baltic and North Sea along with allies from UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).

It is the first time the 10-alliance, which includes Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, has activated a “response” protocol to counter Russian threats.

It follows repeated warnings Russian activity that could threaten undersea internet cables, powerlines from windfarms and oil and gas pipelines.

Shapps hailed the mission as an “historic and unprecedented”.

He said: “The UK and our JEF partners will do whatever it takes to defend our mutual areas of interest, and today’s display of unshakeable unity sends a powerful message of deterrence that we stand ready to meet any potential threat with force.

“Together, we stand firmly in support of peace, security, and a steadfast resolve to uphold the rules-based international order.”

The seven vessel task force includes a Royal Fleet Auxilliary landing ship, RFA Mounts Bay, designed to launch coastal assaults with commandos.

The other vessels are HMS Richmond, HMS Somerset, HMS Severn, HMS Tyne, HMS Cattistock, HMS Penzance, RFA Mounts Bay and an RAF P-8 Poseidon sub-hunting patrol aircraft based at RAF Lossiemouth.

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