In a move that marks a significant escalation in regional tensions, Iran-backed Houthi forces launched two ballistic missiles toward the USS Mason, a U.S. Navy destroyer. The assault came after the ship intervened to thwart an attack on a commercial vessel, signaling a worrying uptick in maritime threats.
The USS Mason, an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, was fulfilling its mission to maintain the safety of international waters when it received a distress signal. The commercial tanker M/V Central Park, sailing under a Liberian flag and managed by Zodiac Maritime, reported being under siege 35 miles off the Yemeni coast. The crew, comprising individuals from diverse nations including Bulgaria, Georgia, India, and the Philippines, was left unharmed after U.S. intervention led to the capture of five armed assailants attempting to flee the scene.
🚨 Breaking 🚨
Houthis fire 2 missiles at USS Mason "" in Mideast.
Tension are rising 🚨 pic.twitter.com/l05WYZbu2w
— 🔨Robert The Builder 🇺🇸 (@NobodymrRobert) November 27, 2023
Following this rescue operation, the Houthi-controlled region in Yemen became the launch point for two ballistic missiles aimed at the general vicinity of the USS Mason and the M/V Central Park. Fortunately, the missiles fell short, splashing into the Gulf of Aden about ten nautical miles from the vessels, with no casualties or damage reported.
Jennifer Griffin, the chief national security correspondent for Fox News, highlighted the gravity of the situation, stating that this act by the Houthi rebels represents a “significant escalation” in the threats posed to U.S. Navy vessels. This incident corroborates the Yemeni government’s stance, which has accused the Houthi militias, with Iran’s backing, of engaging in such acts of maritime piracy.
The U.S. Central Command has reaffirmed its commitment to maritime security, an integral aspect of regional stability. General Michael Erik Kurilla emphasized the ongoing efforts to work alongside allies to safeguard crucial shipping lanes against such threats. This sentiment is echoed by Zodiac Maritime, which expressed gratitude toward coalition forces for their swift action in enforcing international maritime law.
Notably, the A.P. reported that Zodiac Maritime is linked to the Zodiac Group, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer, suggesting potential broader geopolitical implications of the incident.
This confrontation is not isolated but part of a series of hostile acts against U.S. interests in the Middle East, including assaults on American troops and assets. The USS Mason has a history of such encounters, having survived a similar attack in 2016.
As the situation unfolds, there’s an evident need for a decisive and clear stance from the U.S. administration in response to the aggression. This incident is a stark reminder of the persistent challenges faced in securing international waters and the necessity for a vigilant and robust defense posture.
The USS Mason’s encounter with Houthi-fired missiles underscores the enduring challenge of maritime security and the importance of international collaboration to combat piracy and unprovoked aggression on the open seas.