UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has declared the preparedness of British forces to counter Houthi rebels targeting cargo ships in the Red Sea. In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Shapps emphasized the UK’s willingness to use direct measures to safeguard the vital shipping route, citing a recent incident where a British warship intercepted a suspected attack drone. He underscored the commitment to take further action if necessary.

Houthi rebels, aligned with Iran and expressing support for Hamas, have launched over 100 drone and missile attacks on foreign ships amid the Israel-Hamas conflict. Shapps warned that the continued aggression in the Red Sea could escalate into a broader regional conflict, potentially impacting global trade. Stressing the importance of protecting the Red Sea to prevent emboldening threats in other regions, Shapps urged the UK to stand firm with its allies, considering the situation a test for the international community.

The US initiated an international naval operation in December, with the UK, Canada, France, Bahrain, Norway, and Spain participating. HMS Diamond, a British Type 45 Destroyer, shot down a suspected attack drone, marking the Royal Navy’s first engagement with an aerial target in decades.

Recent incidents include the US Navy destroying Houthi “small boats” attempting to board a container ship in the Red Sea. Responding to a distress call, helicopters from US warships sank three boats in self-defense after being fired upon. Analysts caution that Houthi attacks in the Red Sea could disrupt global trade, particularly affecting the shipment of oil and liquefied natural gas from the Middle East.