Sailors Aboard USS Carney Awarded For Downing 14 Houthi Drones

(Photo by FELIX GARZA/US NAVY/AFP via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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U.S. Navy sailors on board the destroyer U.S.S. Carney received combat medals following a burst of incidents to defend against Iran-backed Houthi missile and drone attacks, the Navy’s 5th Fleet said Tuesday.

The Carney’s crew also received a unit award for shooting down a wave of 14 suicide drones launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen in the early morning hours of Dec. 16, the Navy said in a statement. Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of the Bahrain-headquartered 5th Fleet, gave out individual medals to sailors for “exceptional performance” in destroying at least 18 drones armed to explode upon impact with the target.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) did not directly confirm whether the Iran-backed militia intended to target the U.S. destroyer on Dec. 16 in a statement released after the incident. Sending a “drone wave” near U.S. warships would signal an escalation, as similar incidents in recent weeks have involved the U.S.S. Carney and other warships downing one or two drones threatening the vessels at a time. (RELATED: Here Are All The Times US Troops Have Shot Down Drones And Missiles Launched By Iran-Backed Groups Since October)

“In the early morning hours of December 16 (Sanna time) the US Arliegh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS CARNEY (DDG 64), operating in the Red Sea, successfully engaged 14 unmanned aerial systems launched as a drone wave from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. The UAS were assessed to be one-way attack drones and were shot down with no damage to ships in the area or reported injuries,” CENTCOM said.

The Carney had a busy day on Dec. 3 responding to three separate distress calls as the commercial ships came under attack from an onslaught of drones and ballistic missiles the Iran-backed militant group launched, CENTCOM said.

In the process of rendering support to the ships, the Carney downed three Houthi drones but said it was unable to determine whether the Houthis intended to hit the warship.

The drone was headed toward CARNEY although its specific target is not clear. We cannot assess at this time whether the Carney was a target of the UAVs,” CENTCOM said of the first drone shot down that day.

“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security. They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world. We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran,” CENTCOM said in the statement.

On Nov. 29, the Carney destroyed an Iranian-made KAS-04 drone that was heading toward the ship, CENTCOM said. At the time, the Carney was escorting a U.S. refueling ship and another unnamed, but U.S.-flagged and crewed, vessel transporting military equipment to the region. 

The Carney intercepted three land-attack cruise missiles and eight drones that appeared intended to strike Israel on Oct. 19, USNI News reported, citing a preliminary Pentagon after-action report.

None of the engagements damaged U.S. naval assets or injured service members, CENTCOM has said.

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