Royal Navy ship HMS Richmond recently conducted operations in the East China Sea to support United Nations sanctions efforts targeted against the Democratic Republic of Korea’s Weapons of Mass Destruction and ballistic missile programmes. The sanctions, adopted in 2017, ban the supply of fuel or refined petroleum products to DPRK. Detaching from the UK Carrier Strike Group, currently deployed to the Indo-Pacific, the Type 23 frigate captured evidence of ships apparently breaching UN sanctions and collected updated intelligence on other ships of interest, providing video and photographic evidence to the UN Enforcement Coordination Cell.
The operations, which were conducted and completed earlier this month, are the first occasion since 2019 that a Royal Navy ship has supported United Nations sanctions monitoring and enforcement activity. Over the last month the UK Carrier Strike Group has been conducting a series of exercises with the Japanese, United States and the Republic of Korea, separate to sanctions enforcement. Signalling the UK’s enduring commitment to the Indo-Pacific, the Royal Navy has also recently despatched two warships – HMS Spey and HMS Tamar – to the region to deliver a permanent force presence. HMS Richmond is currently alongside in Japan undertaking a planned routine maintenance programme before resuming operations and defence engagement with the UK Carrier Strike Group, headed by the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
HMS Richmond’s commanding officer, Commander Hugh Botterill, said: “Participating in UNSCR enforcement activity has been a critical moment of our Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment. HMS Richmond is proud to have participated in the effort to curtail the Democratic Republic of Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programmes, reporting on vessels of interest and providing valuable imagery and contact data.”
Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace said: “HMS Richmond’s deployment in the East China Sea identified ships acting in suspected breach of UN sanctions and tracked vessels which had previously not been flagged to the Enforcement Coordination Cell. North Korea’s ambitions to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction destabilises the region and poses a threat to the world. ”
HMS Richmond is a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 6 April 1993 by Lady Hill-Norton, wife of the late Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Hill-Norton, and was the last warship to be built by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders. She sailed from the builders on the River Tyne in November 1994. She is named for the Dukedom of Richmond. They form the core of the Royal Navy’s destroyer and frigate fleet and serve alongside the Type 45 destroyers. They were designed for anti-submarine warfare, but have been used for a range of uses. Twelve Type 23 frigates remain in service with the Royal Navy, with three vessels having been sold to the Chilean Navy, and one being retired in 2021. The Royal Navy’s current Type 23 frigates are currently being phased out starting in 2021 and later replaced by the Type 26 Global Combat Ship and the Type 31 frigate.