US Warship Directly Targeted In 'Largest Ever' Houthi Red Sea Missile Attack

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jan 10, 2024 - 05:25 PM

The US Navy shot down nearly two dozen missiles and drones in a major new Red Sea incident, US Central Command (CENTCOM) has confirmed. Given it included at least 21 Houthi missiles and drones launched from Yemen, it marks one of the single largest attacks to take place there since Oct. 7. The Associated Press dubbed it the "largest-ever barrage of drones and missiles targeting shipping in the Red Sea."

An initial military statement had called the Tuesday 9:15pm (local) assault a "complex attack" conducted by the Iran-aligned militants, which occurred off the Yemeni port cities of Hodeida and Mokha. CENTCOM tallied that it involved 18 one-way attack drones, two anti-ship cruise missiles and an anti-ship ballistic missile, according to the statement.

F/A-18 Hornet, US Navy/Getty Images

It generally targeted an area of the southern Red Sea where "dozens" of merchant vessels were traversing at the time. Some defense sources tallied that the total projectile count was 24. Secretary of State Antony Blinken used the opportunity Wednesday to once again charge that Iran is 'aiding and abetting' these Red Sea attacks.

Multiple allied warships patrolling the waters as part of Operation Guardian were said to have been involved in the intercept of the drones and missiles, which reportedly resulted in no casualties, damage, or direct impact. According to US defense officials speaking to CNN:

Three destroyers took part in the shoot down of the barrage, one of the officials said.

Two US destroyers, as well as F-18 fighter jets from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, participated in the combined effort to shoot down the missiles and drones, according to Central Command. The HMS Diamond, an air defence destroyer from the UK’s Royal Navy, was also part of the effort.

It was a major and unusual engagement, even as these Houthi incidents have ramped up to lately become daily events, also because the US carrier and a fighter jet were engaged in repelling it.

But crucially, and buried in all the latest headlines, the Houthis have since confirmed that their missiles directly targeted American warships. The important assertion was picked up in The Associated Press as follows:

The Houthis, a Shiite group that has held Yemen’s capital of Sanaa since 2014, later claimed responsibility for the attack in a televised statement by rebel spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree. Saree claimed the attack “targeted an American ship that was providing support to the Zionist entity,” without offering any further information. He also described it as an “initial response” to American troops sinking Houthi vessels and killing 10 rebel fighters last week.

The White House has for many weeks sought to downplay or even obscure the fact that the Houthis are directly targeting American military vessels. This as President Biden has waffled on requests from Pentagon leadership to hit back directly against Houthi launch positions.

It is important to recall this Politico report from early December:

Some current and former military officials were frustrated by the administration’s initial response to the Houthis’ Sunday attacks on the ships. The Houthis launched four drone and missile attacks on three ships; the destroyer USS Carney, responding to the distress calls, shot down three drones in its vicinity. Those current and former officials say the Iran-backed group’s increasingly aggressive behavior poses a significant risk to American forces in the region, and took issue with the administration’s public statements on Monday, which they say downplayed that threat.

And fast-forward to this week. Central Command has at this point confirmed, "This is the 26th Houthi attack on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea since Nov. 19."

Britain's military command is signaling it's about to take a more offensive posture against the Houthis...

The Pentagon has meanwhile long worried it has already in effect lost 'deterrence' capability, evident also in the increasing impunity with which the Houthis launch drones and missiles, which are also at times aimed at Israel.