U.S. Central Command says two ballistic missiles were launched from Yemen toward a Navy destroyer hours after it stopped a seizure of a commercial vessel off the Gulf of Aden.
On Sunday, Nov. 26 CENTCOM picked up a distress call from the MV Central Park, a commercial tanker traveling through the Red Sea, which said the ship was under attack. The USS Mason, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and other ships from the coalition Task Force 151, which focuses on countering pirates, responded. The MV Central Park was flying under the flag of Liberia at the time of the attack. According to the Associated Press, the ship had a multinational crew of 22 and was carrying phosphoric acid.
The USS Mason and other ships arrived near the Gulf of Aden, demanding the ship and its crew be released. Five armed pirates fled the tanker onto a smaller ship and tried to get away from the coalition forces. They were soon captured after a brief pursuit; the crew of the MV Central Park is safe according to CENTCOM.
“Maritime domain security is essential to regional stability,” CENTCOM head Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla said in a statement. “We will continue to work with allies and partners to ensure the safety and security of international shipping lanes.”
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Hours after that on Monday local time, while the USS Mason was still in the area of the pirate attack, two ballistic missiles launched from Yemen, in areas controlled by the Houthis. The Houthis control much of the country and are fighting the internationally recognized government of Yemen, as well as a Saudi-led coalition. However the missiles didn’t come close; they landed approximately 10 nautical miles from the USS Mason, according to CENTCOM. No one was hurt on either the USS Mason or the MV Central Park. There were no reports of a counter attack toward the launch site.
The USS Mason is part of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. That strike group was sent to the Middle East in October following the Oct. 7 attack in Israel, which prompted the war in Gaza. U.S. ground forces in Syria and Iraq have come under repeated attack by rockets and drones; the U.S. military has carried out several airstrikes targeting Iranian-linked groups in response. On Oct. 18 the USS Carney, another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer operating in the Red Sea following Oct. 7, shot down multiple drones and cruise missiles over the water after they were launched from Yemen in the direction of Israel.
This is not the first time missiles have been fired in the direction of the USS Mason from Yemen. In 2016 Houthi rebels launched cruise missiles toward the destroyer while it was in the Red Sea.
Earlier this summer, prior to the increased deployments following Oct. 7, the U.S. military had deployed several ships, aircraft and a Marine expeditionary unit to the Middle East following what it said was attempts by Iran to seize commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz (a little more than 1,100 miles from the Gulf of Aden).
Meanwhile the attempted seizure of the MV Central Park comes only a few days after Houthis seized a commercial ship in the Red Sea. That raid featured Houthis landing on the ship by helicopter.
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