HomeGlobal Defence UpdatesDanish frigate departs for the Red Sea to assist US-led operation

Danish frigate departs for the Red Sea to assist US-led operation

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Denmark on Monday sent a frigate to the Red Sea, where it will participate in a U.S.-led coalition to safeguard commercial traffic against attacks by Yemen’s Houthi militants.

The Iran-aligned Houthi have launched waves of exploding drones and missiles at commercial and navy vessels since Nov. 19, in response to Israel’s military operations in Gaza.

In response, shipping firms have since December diverted hundreds of vessels around southern Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, a journey that takes 10-14 days longer and is more costly than the passage via the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

Denmark, home to shipping company Maersk, is sending the 139-metre Iver Huitfeldt frigate to the area as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian formed last month to protect merchant vessels.

“If you think that the answer to the Houthis is to simply allow them to terrorise free world trade, you are on the wrong track,” Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen told reporters on board the frigate before it departed the Korsor naval base.

“That is also why we, together with the Americans and the British, are now showing responsibility and sending a signal that we will not tolerate what is happening,” the minister said. The Houthi rebels last week fired three anti-ship ballistic missiles toward a U.S.-flagged container ship operated by Maersk. The frigate carries U.S.-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles and ESSM surface-to-air interceptor missiles, but will not be able to defend itself or other ships against ballistic missiles, said head of the Danish Navy Command, Henrik Ryberg.

Denmark has for years planned to buy the more powerful and longer-range SM-2 and SM-6 missiles capable of defending against ballistic missiles but has not got delivery of those yet, he said.

Danish special operation forces, which have previously been used to combat pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, will not participate in this operation, Ryberg said.

The frigate with a crew of around 175 will begin operations in the Red Sea once the Danish Parliament approves a resolution to send the warship into the area, which is expected on Feb. 6.

It will not participate in U.S.-led offensive operations against the Houthis, the minister said.

Danish shipping companies annually send about 2,500 ships through the Red Sea, a route that accounts for about 15% of the world’s shipping traffic.

“Right now, we have very few Danish ships sailing through the strait, simply because it is too unsafe. But in order to return, we need more security and that’s what the coalition is all about,” said Anne Steffensen, head of industry group Danish Shipping.

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