CENTCOM: Houthi Small Boats Attack Commercial Vessel, Destroyed by Responding American Helicopters

What to Know:

The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) has reported that three Houthi small boats were destroyed by American helicopters during an attack against the commercial container ship Maersk Hangzhou in the Red Sea.

CENTCOM Statement:

CENTCOM released a statement that the Singapore-flagged Maersk Hangzhou issued two distress signals on December 31 after being attacked by four Houthi small boats, which “fired crew served and small arms weapons” at the container ship and attempted to board, prompting an onboard contract security team to return fire.

The distress signals were received by American naval assets in the region and helicopters were dispatched from the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower and Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Gravely.

CENTCOM stated that “in the process of issuing verbal calls to the small boats, the small boats fired upon the U.S. helicopters with crew served weapons and small arms. The U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire in self-defense, sinking three of the four small boats, and killing the crews. The fourth boat fled the area. There was no damage to U.S. personnel or equipment.”

Houthi Reaction:

The Houthis stated that a major announcement will be made in the coming hours, likely in response to this latest incident.

Maersk Reaction:

Maersk has announced that it will suspend operations through the Red Sea for the next 48 hours in response to the attack. Maersk had previously halted shipments through the region in response to continued attacks earlier this month alongside several other major shipping companies, but resumed transits last week.

Why it Matters:

This latest attack marks yet another continuation of Houthi attacks against commercial shipping vessels in the region, which have prompted numerous drone and missile interceptions by American naval vessels. This, however, is the first time that American military forces have directly engaged the Houthi that has resulted in the death of fighters, marking a major escalation in the conflict.

Earlier this month, the United States announced the creation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an international maritime security force created in response to the continued Houthi attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The Houthis have warned that any strikes against Yemen would amount to war and that American naval forces would become the target of strikes.

The Houthis, which are backed by Iran, have repeatedly warned that any vessel linked to Israel, whether it be their owner, operator, or port of call, will be viewed as military targets. Likewise, the group has also added that they will continue attacks until Israel stops military operations in Gaza.

Unbiased & Unfiltered News Reporting for 12+ years. Covering Geo-Political conflicts, wartime events, and vital Breaking News from around the world. Editor-In-Chief of Atlas News.


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