HMS Diamond has sailed through the Suez Canal for the first time as she begins her maiden deployment in earnest.
It took 14 hours for the Type 45 destroyer to pass through the 100-mile canal linking the Mediterranean with the Middle East, where she’ll spend the next six months.
Pictures: LA(Phot) Gaz Weatherston, HMS Diamond
THE 100,000-tonne Greek tanker MV Astrea makes her way to Port Said via the great man-made waterway linking the Near and Middle Easts – a reminder of the mission now facing HMS Diamond, heading in the opposite direction.
The Portsmouth-based warship made her inaugural passage of Suez and thus her six-month mission – to keep the oceans free of terrorists, pirates, smugglers and others who might use the Seven Seas for nefarious purposes – begins in earnest.
Suez is one of the world’s ‘choke points’ – narrow stretches of water (in places just 205 metres/670ft across) through which high volumes of maritime traffic pass.
Weapons past and present… Diamond’s Phalanx automatic gun system stands watch as the destroyer passes the bayonet memorial marking the Egyptian victory in the Battle of Ismailia in the Yom Kippur War in 1973
Its narrowness also means that Royal Navy ships and submarines using it are on alert with upper deck guns manned throughout the passage.
Members of the ship’s company and her specialist Royal Marines Commando detachment stood guard as the Type 45 destroyer joined a large convoy of merchant vessels on the passage south into the Red Sea.
When Diamond’s sister Daring – whom the new arrival is relieving – passed through the canal six months ago, temperatures were in the teens (Celsius).
Not so for Diamond. Over 35˚C. For 161 kilometres (100 miles) – taking 14 hours.
“It was a long day – and a hot one too,” said AB Nicholas Eagers, one of the state-of-the-art destroyer’s force protection team.
“But we are now through the canal on patrol.”
Although designed to shield a British or Coalition task force from air attack, Diamond’s job – just like her sister before her – will be the wider mission of protecting international trade, tackling criminal activity as part of the international naval effort east of Suez, and working with the UK’s partners in the region.