Multiple Commercial Vessels, U.S. Warship Attacked in Red Sea

Multiple commercial vessels and a U.S. warship were reportedly under attack Sunday in the Red Sea. The attacks could mark a significant escalation to the region with maritime attacks in the Middle East linked to the Hamas-Israel war.

“We’re aware of reports regarding attacks on the USS Carney and commercial vessels in the Red Sea and will provide information as it becomes available later,” said a Pentagon spokesman to Fox News, following an Associated Press report on an attack on a U.S. warship located in the Red Sea.

USS Carney is a guided-missile destroyer that has been shooting down cruise missiles and drones in recent weeks launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who took credit for Sunday’s attack. The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) will soon provide an update with further details.

The USS Carney was located in the southern Red Sea, slightly north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, when it took down at least two Houthi drones that were headed in its direction, said a U.S. official, adding the action was taken in its direction, said a U.S. official to Fox news, adding the action was taken in self-defense. Drones were launched from Yemen, from Houthi-controlled areas, claimed the official.

The official said numerous commercial vessels came under fire from the Houthis, and at least one was hit.
An official with the White House seemed to downplay the incident and said the American destroyer did not specifically come under attack in the Red Sea. Allegedly, several other commercial ships in the area were also fired upon, and the American ship responded to their calls of distress.

The U.S. officials said there was no damage to the USS Carney or injuries. The official didn’t have the exact distance of how far the drones were from the ship with it shot them down, but said the American destroyer “did not let them come too close.”

According to the official, there are no injuries to any crew members on the commercial vessels representing several nations, meaning the crews come from one country. At the same time, ships are flagged by another country and owned by another. Attacks on commercial vessels are said to have happened over several hours on Sunday.

At least two drones were shot down over the Red Sea

The USS Carney shot down at least two Houthi drones Sunday over the Red Sea. “Houthi missiles struck down some commercial ships in the Red Sea,” said the official. “The Carney has been lending assistance and shot down at least two UAVs headed in its direction.”

The British military said earlier that there had been a suspected drone attack and explosions in the Red Sea.

Earlier, the Pentagon didn’t identify where it believed the fire came from—however, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, Houthi military spokesman, claimed the attacks, saying the first vessel was hit by a missile and the second by a drone while in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. He described the ships as allegedly ignoring Houthi official warnings before the attack. According to the Associated Press, Saree didn’t mention any U.S. warship involved in the attack.

“The Yemeni armed forces continue to prevent Israeli ships from navigating the Red Sea (and the Gulf of Aden) until the Israeli aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip stops,” said Saree. “The Yemeni armed forces renew their warnings to all Israeli ships or those associated with Israelis that they will become a legitimate target if they violate what is stated in this statement.”

Saree identified the first vessel that attacked the Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier Unity Explorer, owned by a British firm that includes Dan David Ungar, as one of its officers, who lives in Israel.

The second was a container ship that is Panamanian-flagged, called Number 9, which is linked to Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement.

Israeli media identified Ungar as the son of billionaire Israeli shipper Abraham “Rami” Ungar.
A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters told the AP the attack started about 10 a.m. in Sanaa, Yemen, and had gone on for as many as five hours.

Before reports of an attack on the U.S. warship, former Obama defense secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta said Saturday evening at the Reagan National Defense Forum how the United States should respond to the growing number of attacks by Iran’s proxy groups against American forces in the Middle East.

“I would be much more aggressive,” said Panetta. “I want to go after those who are firing missiles at our troops and make sure they understand that when they fire a missile — they are going to die.”

U.S. forces in the Middle East have been attacked on at least 75 occasions since the middle of last month. The Pentagon doesn’t count attacks on American warships at sea in that number.

International shipping has been targeted increasingly as the Israel-Hamas war threatens to grow into a wider regional conflict.

Earlier in November, Houthis seized a vehicle transport ship that is also linked to Israel off Yemen in the Red Sea. The rebels still hold the vessel near the port city of Hodeida. Missiles additionally landed near another U.S. warship last week after it assisted a ship linked to Israel that had been seized briefly by gunmen.

But the Houthis haven’t targeted Americans directly for quite awhile, which further raises the stakes inte increasing maritime conflict. The U.S. launched Tomahawk cruise missiles that destroyed three radar sites on the coast in Houthi-controlled territory to retaliate for rockets being fired at U.S Navy ships, including the USS Mason.