U.S. Navy sinks multiple ships in the Red Sea

BEIRUT, LEBANON – A cargo ship in the Red Sea became the latest target of Houthi rebels, prompting a counterattack by U.S. forces that left several rebels dead. This marks a new peak in the maritime conflict tied to the Gaza war.

The U.S. Central Command revealed that the USS Gravely destroyer was the first to respond, shooting down two anti-ship ballistic missiles aimed at the Singapore-flagged Maersk Hangzhou late Saturday. This action was prompted by the ship’s report of a missile strike earlier that evening while it was sailing through the Southern Red Sea.

Early Sunday, the same cargo ship was again under attack, this time from four small boats with armed rebels attempting to board the Maersk Hangzhou. The U.S. Navy reported that the USS Gravely and helicopters from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier responded to the distress call. Despite issuing verbal warnings, the attackers fired at the helicopters.

In self-defense, the U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire, sinking three of the four boats and killing the rebels onboard. The fourth boat managed to escape. The U.S. Central Command confirmed no damage or casualties among U.S. personnel or equipment.

The Houthi rebels have yet to issue a statement on the incident.

This incident is the 23rd illegal attack by the Houthi rebels on international shipping since November 19, as reported by the U.S. Central Command. It also marks the first time U.S. Navy personnel have killed Houthi fighters since the Red Sea attacks began.

The Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, have been claiming responsibility for attacks on ships in the Red Sea for over a month. They allege that these ships are either linked to Israel or heading to Israeli ports. Their stated goal is to halt the Israeli air-and-ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, which was initiated by the Palestinian militant group Hamas’ attack in southern Israel on October 7. However, the ties between the targeted ships and the rebel attacks have become increasingly ambiguous as the attacks continue.