Houthis Hit Ship Carrying Aid To Yemen, US Military Says

(U.S. Navy photo)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The Houthi terrorists in Yemen attacked a U.S.-flagged ship carrying humanitarian aid to a Yemeni port on Monday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement Tuesday night.

The Iran-backed Houthi militants, who control most of Yemen, fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles between 12:30 p.m. and 1:50 p.m. at the Greek-owned, U.S.-flagged Sea Champion, meant to deliver grain to the port of Aden and support a population trapped in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, CENTCOM said in a statement. One of the missiles exploded near the ship, inflicting minor damage, but the Sea Champion continued sailing.

“Nevertheless, her crew proceeded on course to their ultimate destination: delivering grain to Aden, Yemen, for the benefit of the Yemeni people,” CENTCOM Said. (RELATED: Pentagon Investigating Spy Drone Crash Near Houthi-Controlled Yemen)

The Sea Champion was on its 12th voyage delivering aid to Yemen in the past five years, CENTCOM said. Nearly 80% of Yemen’s population is considered in need of humanitarian assistance, and the Houthis’ repeated attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea have worsened the crisis.

“We are committed to countering the Houthis’ malign activities, which directly endanger the imports of foodstuff and humanitarian aid to Yemen,” CENTCOM stated.

On the same day, another ballistic missile was launched into the Red Sea but did not cause any damage, CENTCOM said. Then, an explosive-laden drone struck the Marshall Islands-flagged, U.S.-owned carrier, the M/V Navis Fortuna, inflicting minor damage as the vessel continued toward its destination in Italy.

U.S. and coalition forces took action multiple times on Monday and Tuesday to counter Houthi aggression in the Red Sea, in one of the busiest days of late.

240203-N-JC256-1072 RED SEA (Feb. 3, 2024) The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) conducts flight operations in response to increased Iranian-backed Houthi malign behavior in the Red Sea, Feb. 3, 2024. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to support maritime security and stability in the Middle East region.

RED SEA — The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) conducts flight operations in response to increased Iranian-backed Houthi malign behavior in the Red Sea, Feb. 3, 2024. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Janae Chambers)

The U.S. military destroyed a surface-to-air missile launcher that could have posed a threat to aircraft in the region at around 5 p.m. Monday, according to CENTCOM. At 8:15, CENTCOM forces destroyed a one-way attack drone prepared to launch into the Red Sea.

Then, between 8 p.m. Monday and 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, U.S. and coalition Western aircraft and warships engaged 10 more suicide drones already traveling toward their targets, CENTCOM said. An anti-ship cruise missile targeted the USS Laboon, a U.S. Navy destroyer, also at 12:30 a.m., and was shot down.

The one-way attack drones, surface-to-air system, and anti-ship ballistic missile U.S. forces neutralized “were identified by CENTCOM and determined they presented imminent threats to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region,” the statement read. “These actions will protect navigational rights and freedoms and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy and merchant vessels.”

Although the U.S. has conducted dozens of dynamic strikes on Houthi missiles or drones prepared to launch and conducted multiple large-scale strikes on Houthi locations, attacks have not ceased.

“The Houthis did have, and do have, a large warehouse of capabilities. But every single time that we conduct a strike, whether it be with our coalition partners or whether be unilateral and in these dynamic strikes that you’ve seen CENTCOM take, we do degrade their abilities and their capabilities,” Pentagon deputy spokesperson Sabrina Singh said Tuesday.

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