(Patriot.Buzz) – Showcasing the might of the U.S. military and the efforts of millions of patriotic troops, U.S. Navy helicopters engaged and destroyed three boats operated by Houthi forces off the coast of Yemen in a significant escalation of tensions right before last year’s end.
The attack killed the crews aboard and was a response to an attempt by Houthi militants to hijack the commercial vessel MAERSK HANGZHOU, which had already issued a distress call less than 24 hours earlier.
Central Command (Centcom) detailed the incident in a statement, noting that the MAERSK HANGZHOU was attacked by four small boats armed with crew-served and small arms weapons.
The attackers came from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen and attempted to board the vessel after getting dangerously close, within 20 meters. The container ship’s embarked security team responded with gunfire.
In response to the distress call, U.S. helicopters from the USS EISENHOWER and the USS GRAVELY intervened. While the helicopters were approaching, the Houthi boats fired at them. The U.S. Navy aircraft retaliated in self-defense, sinking three of the attacking ships and eliminating their crews. The fourth boat retreated from the confrontation.
This incident marks the first instance of U.S. military forces directly engaging and neutralizing Houthi crew members in response to attacks on commercial and U.S. ships in the Red Sea, which have been occurring since October. There have been over 23 such Houthi-initiated attacks, some causing significant damage.
Previously, U.S. Navy actions against the Houthis were limited to intercepting drones and missiles launched from Yemen without direct engagement with Houthi forces. This encounter also appears to be the first time Houthi forces have directly fired upon U.S. Navy helicopters. Pentagon officials have reiterated the U.S. military’s right to self-defense.
The U.S. Navy’s robust response follows criticism of the Biden administration’s lackluster efforts to form an international coalition to deter Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. Despite creating a coalition, Houthi assaults persisted, leading commercial shippers to consider alternate lengthier and costlier routes. Additionally, there has been hesitancy among U.S. allies to fully commit resources to the coalition.
Recent statements from Centcom have begun to explicitly acknowledge that Houthis were targeting U.S. ships, a stance the Pentagon previously seemed reluctant to confirm.