Belgian frigate returns from European operation in Red Sea

The Belgian frigate Louise-Marie arrived in Zeebrugge on Tuesday, ending its part of the European operation in the Red Sea. The vessel has been protecting numerous container ships in the region from attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels.

In November, Houthi rebels began attacking commercial vessels in the region in support of the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel. The Houthis' aim is to disrupt maritime trade and increase pressure on the West to intervene in the conflict.

In response, the EU launched a defensive mission called Aspides, to protect ships by shooting down hostile missiles. The Louise-Marie left Zeebrugge in March, but its participation was delayed because an anti-aircraft missile became stuck in a launch tube.

In the Red Sea, one of Louise-Marie's convoys was approached by drones used in drone attacks, which were neutralised by air units.

Second operation

The frigate was also deployed in the Strait of Hormuz, between Iran and the Gulf of Oman. The European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASoH) was launched in 2020 in response to growing instability in the region. While nine European countries are taking part, EMASoH was not initiated by the EU.

In total, the Louise-Marie spent 121 days away from port and its 160-strong crew travelled more than 55,000km. The Aspides operation will last until February 2025.



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