Allied Warships Trickle Into Red Sea Coalition
Posted on January 8th, 2024

by John Konrad (gCaptain)

Allied Warships Trickle Into Red Sea Coalition

INDIAN OCEAN (June 26, 2021) Sri Lanka Navy Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel SLNS Gajabahu (P-626), right, and SLNS Sayurala (P-623) exercise divisional tactics alongside Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18), June 26. In its 27th year, the CARAT series is comprised of multinational exercises, designed to enhance U.S. and partner navies’ abilities to operate together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Butler)

In the Red Sea, Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG) is witnessing a gradual increase in naval strength. Led by the United States, OPG warships from different nations are trickling into the Red Sea to counter maritime attacks from Yemen’s Houthi rebels. In the past few days United Kingdom, Greece, and Sri Lanka have all announced the addition of warships to this coalition. Additionally, India and Pakistan have increased their warship commitments, but not as part of OPG.

iNews UK reports that the Royal Navy is deploying a third ship, the HMS Richmond, to join ongoing efforts in the Red Sea. This decision showcases the UK’s commitment to the American coalition. Departing from Plymouth, the HMS Richmond will rendezvous with the HMS Diamond, a destroyer, and the HMS Lancaster, a frigate, both already stationed in the region.

While the HMS Lancaster has significant missile capabilities with its 32 Vertical Launch Cells for anti-air missiles, they are not as extensive as those of larger destroyers like the USS Carney, which can hold 90 missiles. The USS Carney recently demonstrated the effectiveness of its VLS system by shooting down 14 drones before returning to the US naval base in Bahrain for resupply.

Today, following the diplomatic efforts of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Turkey and Greece, the Greek Navy has decided to contribute a Hydra-class frigate equipped with 32 Vertical Launch System (VLS) missile cells to OPG. Greece says this strategic decision aims to strengthen the protection of merchant vessels sailing in the turbulent waters of the Red Sea.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is taking steps to join the coalition, as reported by Barrons. President Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka has expressed concerns about the rising freight costs and the negative impact on the country’s major exports, such as garments and tea, due to Houthi attacks on shipping. To address these challenges, Sri Lanka plans to deploy a 100-man warship, potentially an offshore patrol ship like the SLNS Sindurala, equipped with anti-air guns but lacking VLS cells. Wickramasuriya emphasized that a crew of over 100 personnel will be deployed.

Ten days ago Denmark announced plans to send a frigate to OPG but it’s not clear when that ship will arrive.

Non-Coalition Warships

While several nations are strengthening the OPG others, like France, are joining the OPG but prioritizing ships owned by their nations without submitting to US command. Some nations, such as India and Pakistan, are committed to protecting ships outside the OPG structure altogether.

India and Pakistan have also exhibited heightened naval activities in the Red Sea. However, they will focus on protecting their own ships rather than joining the US-led coalition. India’s Defense Ministry announced the deployment of a task force to provide escorts to Indian container ships in the high seas surrounding the Red Sea.

Following India’s announcement, the Pakistan Navy declared via a YouTube video their intention to send 2-3 ships to the Red Sea, signifying a notable increase in naval presence in these strategic waters.

The purpose is to protect Pakistan-bound and international shipping traversing through our area. In this regard, 2-3 ships are always patrolling the areas on which Pakistan-bound and international merchant ships are plying,” a spokesman said. In addition, extensive air surveillance is also being undertaken to ensure the safety of international sea lines of communications passing through our maritime area.”

Joint Statement

Amidst these developments, the United States, along with eleven other countries, recently issued a joint statement calling for an end to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. This underscores the international community’s growing concern over maritime security in this vital region. Operation Prosperity Guardian continues to gain momentum, but progress appears to be slow and gradual.

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