US Navy Takes Action Against Houthi Aggression, Sinks 3 Ships And Kills 10

The US Navy has reportedly impaired Houthi “small boats” whose crew members attempted to board a container vessel in the Red Sea. Four vessels from the Houthi-controlled areas based in Yemen had fired the Maersk Hangzhou and got within meters of the vessel, the US military declared.

Helicopters from the nearby US battleships responded to a distress call and, on being fired on, sank three vessels in self-defence. The crew members were killed, and the fourth one fled the zone. One of the Houthi spokespeople said that the vessel refused to respond to warning calls and that 10 of the group members were dead or had been missing following the incident.

The Houthis have been going on attacking vessels in the Red Sea since November, initiating over 100 drones and missile attacks on the ships that were passing through the vital shipping lane. The Iran-backed Yemeni rebel group has earlier claimed that the attacks were directed at the vessels linked to Israel in response to the war happening in Gaza. The commercial vessel targeted, the Maersk Hangzhou, is registered to Singapore and operated and owned by a Danish firm, US Central Command (Centcom) said.

US Navy
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Per sources, four Houthi boats had launched an attack around 06:30 Yemeni time with weapons along with small arms, reaching within 20m of the container vessel, which the crew members attempted boarding. Centcom mentioned that the crew issued a distress call, and a security team returned the fire.

Helicopters from the nearby Eisenhower aircraft carrier and Gravely destroyer responded to the call for help and were also shot at while making verbal calls to the small boats. The helicopters had returned to fire in self-defence, submerging three of four small boats and taking the lives of its crew members, Centcom reported. It also added that the fourth boat had fled that area and that no damages had been done to the US personnel or the equipment.

It was the second threat on Hangzhou within 24 hours after the vessel had been targeted on Saturday. Besides, Centcom also said that anti-ship missiles had been fired from the Houthi-controlled places and that the destroyers Laboon and Gravely responded. Maersk said that the attack took place at around 17:30 GMT. It also confirmed that some unknown object had hit its vessel hard. However, there was zero indication of fire on the board.

Maersk, one of the most significant shipping firms in the world, has stopped its sailings via the Red Sea for the next 48 hours. The company had resumed using the channel just a few days after the US and its allies had launched a mission to safeguard vessels in that area. Earlier, its vessels had diverted on a more extended channel around the Cape of Good Hope owing to the most recent attacks on shipping.

A US Navy admiral told the AP that Saturday’s missile attack was the first-ever successful one since a worldwide patrol had been launched on 18 December. Centcom said that while the vessels had been responding to distress calls, two anti-ship missiles got fired from Houthi-controlled zones at the two US Navy vessels. Gravely destroyed the inbound ballistic missiles, Centcom added, mentioning that it was the 23rd illegal attack carried out on international shipping by the Houthis since 19 November. Centcom explained that the Maersk Hangzhou was seaworthy and that there weren’t any injuries on board.

Separately, the UK Maritime Trade Operations (abbreviated the UKMTO) reported another incident in the Red Sea nearly 55 nm to the southwest of the port of Hodeidah. The organization said an unidentified vessel had reported a loud bang with a flash on the port bow of the boat and multiple explosions. No damages were recorded, and crew members remained unhurt, with the vessel making it safely to a port nearby, the statement clarified.

Over weeks, the growth in the number of Houthi attacks has led many shipping companies, including Maersk, to divert vessels away from the Red Sea instead of sailing around the Horn of Africa. To get to the Suez Canal in Egypt that connects to the Mediterranean Sea, the vessels must pass via the Bab al-Mandab Strait, off the coast of Houthi-controlled zones in Yemen.

The Iranian-sponsored rebels have earlier claimed to target “Israel-linked” commercial vessels only in response to the war happening now in Gaza, stating that the attacks are an attempt to halt Israeli attacks on the Palestinians. In a statement on Sunday, David Cameron, the UK Foreign Secretary, said that he informed Iran’s foreign minister of the fact that Tehran shares the responsibility for preventing the attacks, given the long-standing support to Houthis. In an interview with the AP, the US Navy Vice Adm. Brad Cooper said that the Houthis didn’t seem to be ending “reckless” attacks in the light of a new maritime task force designed for combatting them.

In December 2023, the US initiated Operation Prosperity Guardian — an international coalition to protect shipping in that area. Vice Adm. Cooper also added that 1,200 commercial vessels had sailed via the Red Sea since the operation had been launched, with none getting hit by drones or missile strikes until Saturday.

After the international task force was announced, the US Department of Defense said the Houthis had carried out more than 100 drones and ballistic missile attacks since November. The attempted strikes had targeted ten commercial vessels that were linked to 35+ different countries, it added. Now, the Red Sea is one of the most crucial shipping lanes in the world, as it connects markets in Europe to those in Asia. Analysts have further warned that the attacks could also witness a rise in rates, as it is one of the most crucial routes for oil and LNG shipments generated in the Middle East.

Reference: BBC

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