Israel at War

US warship downs missile and drones launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels

Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters over the Israel-Hamas war.

A firefighting team from Indian Navy vessel INS Kolkata responding to a fire on Liberian-flagged Merchant ship MSC Sky II
A firefighting team from Indian Navy vessel INS Kolkata responds to a fire on Liberian-flagged Merchant ship MSC Sky II.
Indian Navy on X via AP
SMS

A U.S. destroyer shot down drones and a missile launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels toward it in the Red Sea, officials said Wednesday, as the Indian navy released images of it fighting a fire aboard a container ship earlier targeted by the Houthis.

The assault Tuesday apparently targeted the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that has been involved in the American campaign against the rebels, who have launched attacks over Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Another suspected Houthi attack on shipping was reported Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Iran announced Wednesday it would confiscate a $50 million cargo of Kuwaiti crude oil for American energy firm Chevron Corp. aboard a tanker it seized nearly a year earlier. It marks the latest twist in a yearslong shadow war playing out in the Mideast's waterways even before the Houthi attacks began.

The Houthi attack on the Carney on Tuesday involved bomb-carrying drones and one anti-ship ballistic missile, the U.S. military's Central Command said.

The U.S. later launched an airstrike destroying three anti-ship missiles and three bomb-carrying drone boats, the Central Command said.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesperson, acknowledged the attack, but claimed its forces targeted two American warships, without elaborating.

The Houthis "will not stop until the aggression is stopped and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted," Saree said.

Saree did not acknowledge the later U.S. airstrikes. The Houthis have not offered any assessment of the damage they've suffered in the American-led strikes that began in January, though they have said at least 22 of their fighters have been killed.

Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters over the Israel-Hamas war. Those vessels have included at least one with cargo bound for Iran, the Houthis' main benefactor, and an aid ship later bound for Houthi-controlled territory.

Despite more than a month and a half of U.S.-led airstrikes, Houthi rebels have remained capable of launching significant attacks. They include the attack last month on a cargo ship carrying fertilizer, the Rubymar, which sank on Saturday after drifting for several days, and the downing of an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars.

US, British strikes hit Houthi targets in Yemen after Red Sea attacks
US, British strikes hit Houthi targets in Yemen after Red Sea attacks

US, British strikes hit Houthi targets in Yemen after Red Sea attacks

According to U.S. officials, American and British fighter jets hit sites in eight locations. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

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The Houthis have been hailing ships over the radio in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden as well since launching their attacks. The British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center reported Wednesday that a new round of similar radio messages went out to a ship, and urged crews to report any suspicious activity.

A short time later, the UKMTO reported a suspected attack in the area. Private security firm Ambrey said an explosion was reported near the vessel apparently hailed in the radio call, but there were few other details immediately known.

Meanwhile, the Indian navy released a video of its sailors from the INS Kolkata fighting a fire aboard the MSC Sky II, which had been targeted by the Houthis in the Gulf of Aden on Monday. Smoke poured out of one container aboard the vessel, which also showed scorch marks from the impact of a Houthi missile.

The Mediterranean Shipping Co., a Switzerland-based company, said the missile struck the ship as it was traveling from Singapore to Djibouti.

"The missile caused a small fire that has been extinguished while no crew were injured," the company said.

Iran separately announced the seizure of the crude oil aboard the Advantage Sweet through an announcement carried by the judiciary's state-run Mizan news agency. At the time, Iranian commandos rappelled from a helicopter onto the vessel, which it alleged collided with another ship, without offering any evidence.

The court order for the seizure offered an entirely different reason for the confiscation. Mizan said it was part of a court order over U.S. sanctions it alleged barred the importation of a Swedish medicine used to treat patients suffering from epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic condition that causes blisters all over the body and eyes. It did not reconcile the different reasons for the seizure.

The Advantage Sweet had been in the Persian Gulf in late April, but its track showed no unusual behavior as it transited through the Strait of Hormuz, where a fifth of all traded oil passes. Iran has made allegations in other seizures that later fell apart as it became clear Tehran was trying to leverage the capture as a chip to negotiate with foreign nations.

Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ship seizures and explosions have roiled the region since 2019. The incidents began after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

The U.S. Navy also has blamed Iran for a series of limpet mine attacks on vessels that damaged tankers in 2019, as well as for a fatal drone attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker that killed two European crew members in 2021. Tehran denies carrying out the attacks.