Royal Navy sailors recognized for accomplishments under “missile threat”

HMS Daring accompanying USNS Brittin. Photo: Royal Navy

The crew of Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring will be awarded a new medal clasp for bravery shown during Bab al-Mandeb strait escort missions in 2016.

Announcing the recognition, the Royal Navy said HMS Daring sailors braved the threat of missile attack to protect merchant ships in the Middle East.

The new medal – named the Gulf of Aden Clasp – was approved by Her Majesty The Queen and will be introduced for those who served on board Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring during the missions.

The intense mission began after an attack on a merchant vessel, the MV Swift, off the coast of Yemen in October 2016. Portsmouth-based HMS Daring was already headed to the area at the start of a nine-month deployment on maritime security operations.

The destroyer and her 260-strong crew then conducted 20 patrols of the area threatened by land-based missiles and explosive boats in the hands of Houthi rebels. With the ship’s advanced surveillance radar and Sea Viper missile system, they ensured the critical choke point for world trade remained free-flowing.

Defense secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Maritime trade is the lifeblood of Britain’s economy and the Royal Navy plays a key role in protecting important trade routes. The extraordinary achievements of HMS Daring’s ship’s company, under constant missile threat, is a testament to the skill and bravery of the men and women of the Navy.

“Their award of the Gulf of Aden Clasp is thoroughly deserved and they should wear it with pride.”

HMS Daring’s crew operated for 50 days under threat of attack, safeguarding 800,000 tons of merchant shipping. Each transit of the chokepoint was conducted at the highest degree of readiness.

Sailors and Royal Marines who were on board at the time will be awarded the clasp, which is worn with the General Service Medal, later this year. Those who do not already possess the medal will be awarded it.

Commander Phil Dennis, who was the commanding officer of HMS Daring at the time of the operation, said: “This is wonderful recognition of the immense efforts of my team in HMS Daring during such a vital mission which ultimately helped protect Britain’s economy and safeguard world trade.

“There was a significant and viable threat from both surface and air attack at the time, but throughout that threat my team performed brilliantly, calling upon their world-class training to rise to the challenge.

After passing east of the Suez Canal, Daring first escorted the Royal Navy’s Joint Expeditionary Force task group. As well as providing air defense, Daring helped protect the task group’s ships from the threat of waterborne attack, carrying Royal Navy and Royal Marines boarding parties to counter piracy, terrorists and smugglers.

She later accompanied the significant amount of merchant shipping through the narrow lanes of the southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb strait.

Several other Royal Navy ships have since maintained patrols and maritime security duties in the region since the threat has de-escalated.

Earlier this month, Daring’s sister ship HMS Diamond was called upon to monitor the movements of two Russian warships as they passed through the English Channel.

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