Royal Navy air defence destroyer HMS Diamond has destroyed “multiple attack drones” deployed by Iranian-backed Houthis in the Red Sea, according to Defence Secretary Grant Shapps.

The Portsmouth-based Type-45 destroyer working with US warships repelled what Mr Shapps described as the largest attack yet from the Yemeni-based force.

He posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Overnight, HMS Diamond, along with US warships, successfully repelled the largest attack from the Iranian-backed Houthis in the Red Sea to date.

“Deploying Sea Viper missiles and guns, Diamond destroyed multiple attack drones heading for her and commercial shipping in the area, with no injuries or damage sustained to Diamond or her crew.

“The UK alongside allies have previously made clear that these illegal attacks are completely unacceptable and if continued the Houthis will bear the consequences.

“We will take the action needed to protect innocent lives and the global economy.”

READ MORE: Red Sea shipping attacks threaten to rekindle UK inflation

US Central Command said the Houthis had launched a “complex attack” and a total of 18 attack drones, two anti-ship cruise missiles and an anti-ship ballistic missile were shot down in the operation which involved Diamond, US warships and F/A-18 fighter jets.

It said the attack was the 26th Houthi attack on the Red Sea shipping lanes since November 19.

It posted on X: “On Jan 9, at approximately 9.15pm (Sanaa time), Iranian-backed Houthis launched a complex attack of Iranian designed one-way attack UAVs (OWA UAVs), anti-ship cruise missiles, and an anti-ship ballistic missile from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen into the Southern Red Sea, towards international shipping lanes where dozens of merchant vessels were transiting.

“Eighteen OWA UAVs, two anti-ship cruise missiles, and one anti-ship ballistic missile were shot down by a combined effort of F/A-18s from USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Gravely (DDG 107), USS Laboon (DDG 58), USS Mason (DDG 87), and the United Kingdom’s HMS Diamond (D34).

“This is the 26th Houthi attack on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea since Nov 19. There were no injuries or damage reported.

“On Jan 3, 14 countries, including the US, issued a joint statement stating, ‘The Houthis will bear the responsibility for the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, or the free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways’.”

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron told MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday that Houthi attacks in the Red Sea which had come in the wake of the Gaza conflict were “unacceptable” in one of the “most important sea lanes”.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf accuses Israeli leaders of proposing 'ethnic cleansing'

He said: “No-one wants to see escalation of conflict in the Middle East, but it is unacceptable to have the freedom of navigation affected in this way.”

He said it was “important” to discuss the various factors behind the escalation in the key shipping route, but said it was “hard to know exactly why”.

“They need to be told … this is not a sort of free option, that consequences follow.”