Houthis launch maritime drone to attack ships hours after US

Houthis launch maritime drone to attack ships, hours after US and allies issue 'final warning' – ABC News

An armed unmanned surface vessel that took off from Houthi-controlled Yemen came within “several miles” of US Navy and merchant ships in the Red Sea before exploding


TARA COPP Associated Press

January 4, 2024, 11:57 am ET

• 3 min reading

WASHINGTON – An armed unmanned surface ship that launched from Houthi-controlled Yemen came within “several miles” of U.S. Navy and merchant ships in the Red Sea before exploding on Thursday, just hours after the White House and A number of partner countries announced the announcement was a “final warning” to the Iran-backed militia group to stop attacks or face a possible military strike.

Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, the head of US Navy operations in the Middle East, said it was the first time the Houthis had used an unmanned surface vessel (USV) since they harassed merchant ships in the Red Sea after the disaster struck Israel -Hamas war. However, they have been using them for the past few years.

Fabian Hinz, a missile expert and research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the USVs are an important part of the Houthi maritime arsenal and have been used in previous battles against Saudi coalition forces that intervened in the war in Yemen. They were regularly used as suicide drone boats, exploding on impact.

Most of the Houthis' USVs are likely assembled in Yemen, but are often equipped with Iranian-made components such as computerized guidance systems, Hinz said.

Since late October, the Houthis have fired numerous disposable drones and missiles at merchant ships transiting the Red Sea. U.S. Navy warships also intercepted ballistic missiles that the Pentagon said were headed toward Israel. Cooper said a total of 61 missiles and drones were shot down by US warships.

In response to the Houthi attacks, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Operation Prosperity Guardian in December, in which the United States and other countries would send additional ships to the southern Red Sea to assist merchant ships passing through the critical Bab el-Mandeb Strait. to provide protection.

Cooper said that since the operation began on December 18, 1,500 merchant vessels have been able to transit safely.

However, the Houthis have continued to fire missiles and attack drones, prompting the White House and 12 allies to issue a final warning of sorts on Wednesday to stop their attacks on ships in the Red Sea or face targeted military action.

Cooper said Operation Prosperity Guardian is purely defensive in nature and independent of any military action the U.S. might take if Houthi attacks continue.

The United States, the United Kingdom and France currently provide the most warships, and Greece and Denmark also contribute ships, he said.


Associated Press writer Jack Jeffery in London contributed to this report.