Houthi rebels in Yemen launched missile attacks on three commercial ships and a US missile destroyer in the Red Sea. A British-owned vessel was set ablaze during the assault. The Houthis, supported by Iran, have escalated their aggression, particularly since the commencement of the Israel-Hamas war in October.
On December 3, anti-ship missiles originating from Houthi-controlled regions of Yemen targeted three vessels: the bulk carriers Unity Explorer and Sophie II, along with the container ship Number 9, in the northern Red Sea.
While on patrol in the region, the Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyer USS Carney detected and monitored a ballistic missile launched from Yemen. The missile ultimately landed in close proximity to the Unity Explorer.
Shortly thereafter, Carney encountered a drone, which it successfully intercepted and neutralized. Approximately 30 minutes later, another missile was launched towards the Unity Explorer, resulting in the ship catching fire upon impact. While the destroyer was attending to the distressed freighter’s call for assistance, yet another drone approached, prompting Carney to once again shoot it down.
Since 2004, the Houthi movement, an extremist Islamist terrorist group with support from Iran, has been engaged in an insurgency against the Yemeni government. The Yemeni government receives backing from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in this ongoing conflict.
Following the attack by Hamas, which also receives support from Iran, on Israel on October 7, the Houthis have extended their actions. They launched missiles towards Israel and initiated attacks on vessels in the crucial shipping lanes of the Red Sea, seemingly indicating an effort to broaden the scope of the clash.
There is clear evidence that the Houthi rebels were responsible for the missile attacks on Sunday. The group openly acknowledged targeting two of the affected vessels, identifying them as Israeli ships.
It’s worth noting that Unity Explorer is owned by a British entity and registered in the Bahamas, while Number 9 and Sophie II are both registered in Panama and owned by British and Bermudan companies, respectively. None of the targeted ships have Israeli affiliations.