International

US Military Sinks Three Houthi Boats Attacking Red Sea Container Ship

Amidst rising tensions in the Red Sea, the US military successfully thwarted a Houthi rebel attack on a container ship, sinking three boats in a dramatic encounter triggered by an SOS call from the distressed vessel.

A tanker is moored off the coast of Limassol, Cyprus, Dec 15, 2023, amid Houthi attacks in Red Sea.
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In the latest incident in the Red Sea, the US military reported sinking three boats associated with Houthi rebels, who targeted a container ship, the Maersk Hangzhou. US warships, USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely, dispatched helicopters in response to an SOS call from the ship. The helicopters engaged the "Iranian-backed Houthi small boats" in self-defense, ultimately sinking three of them. The vessel Maersk Hangzhou had been fired upon and faced attempted boardings by Houthi boats.

This marked the second attack on Maersk Hangzhou within 24 hours, with CENTCOM reporting the earlier interception of two ballistic missiles fired by Houthi rebels. Following these incidents, Maersk temporarily suspended its operations in the Red Sea for 48 hours, underscoring ongoing threats to commercial vessels in the region.

The attacks in the Red Sea are part of a series by Houthi rebels who, aligned with Iran, target vessels they perceive as linked to Israel. These actions have led major shipping companies, including Maersk, to cease operations in the area. Despite the formation of a global naval task force by the US on December 19 to safeguard shipping in the region, Houthi attacks persist, with the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles on the rise.

Amid these developments, concerns have been raised about the safety of submarine communications cables under the Bab al-Mandeb strait. Yemen's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has assured that its decision to prevent the passage of Israeli enemy ships does not affect international companies licensed by Maritime Affairs – Sanaa for marine cable works. However, ships engaged in submarine cable works are advised to obtain the necessary permits and approvals.

The situation unfolds against the backdrop of heightened tensions in the Middle East, particularly in light of the conflict in Gaza. The US, a staunch supporter of Israel, has seen its assets targeted in over 100 attacks by Iran-backed groups in Syria and Iraq since the conflict's outbreak.

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