US Warship Defends Commercial Ship in Red Sea

USS Carney Responds to Distress Call in the Red Sea

On October 23, 2018, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) transited the Mediterranean Sea on its fifth patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations. The vessel, which is forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is actively supporting regional allies, partners, and U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.

The USS Carney recently responded to a distress call from a commercial vessel that was attacked by “multiple projectiles” in the southern Red Sea, according to a US military official. The merchant vessel Swan Atlantic was targeted at approximately 9 a.m. Sanaa time, as part of a series of attacks by Houthi forces, who are backed by Iran, on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Challenges in the Red Sea

The attack on the Swan Atlantic occurred amid ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, while US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was in the region for meetings with senior Israeli officials in Tel Aviv. Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi forces have been targeting commercial ships in the Red Sea, citing the attacks as revenge against Israel. Due to the “deteriorating security situation,” oil giant BP announced the suspension of all shipments through the Red Sea.

As a response, the U.S. is considering enhancing protections for commercial ships in the vital shipping route. The Combined Maritime Forces, a multi-national naval task force charged with protecting commercial shipping in the Red Sea, is in discussions about reinforcing its task force to address growing concerns over Houthi interference in the region.

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USS Carney’s Actions

On a separate occasion, the USS Carney intercepted 14 drones launched from “Houthi-controlled areas” of Yemen, as reported by US Central Command. The unmanned aircraft systems were identified as one-way attack drones and were successfully intercepted without causing any damage to ships in the area or reported injuries. Similarly, the USS Thomas Hudner previously thwarted multiple one-way attack drones launched from Yemen.

Furthermore, the USS Mason in the Gulf of Aden encountered two ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen after responding to a distress call from another commercial tanker that was attacked by five armed individuals believed to be Somali. These incidents reflect a pattern of aggressive actions in the region.

International Response

As a response to recent attacks, the US has conducted strikes in eastern Syria and Iraq, targeting weapons depots and storage facilities used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxy militia groups. The objective is to address the escalating threat posed by Iran-backed forces in the region.

Overall, the situation in the Red Sea remains a matter of heightened concern, prompting significant adjustments in international maritime security measures to ensure the safety of commercial shipping.

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