US Navy Sinks Four Houthi Ships Committing Piracy

U.S. Navy helicopters dispatched from a Navy destroyer and aircraft carrier sank four Houthi boats Saturday in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen after responding to distress calls from a Danish container ship.

According to reports from U.S. Central Command, the Navy received a call for help from the Danish commercial container vessel Maersk Hangzhou. The Houthi vessels reportedly fired a cruise missile at the Maersk Hangzhou. The Houthi ships then fired cruise missiles at the USS Gravely and the USS Laboon, which the Navy shot down before they could reach the vessels.

The Maersk Hangzhou then sent another distress call, prompting the U.S. Navy to send ships scrambling for the area. When they arrived, they found the Houthi ships within 20 meters of the Danish ship and Houthi soldiers engaged in a firefight with the commercial ship’s private security force as the Houthis were attempting to board the civilian vessel.

The Navy then dispatched armed helicopters from the USS Eisenhower, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, and the USS Gravely, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer. After they attempted to hail the Houthi rebels using loudspeakers, the Houthis opened fire on the helicopters. The Navy helicopters returned fire and sank the boats, killing all crew on board.

The U.S. Navy marked this as the 23rd Houthi attack on a civilian boat in the region since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. The Trump Administration designated the anti-government Houthi movement in Yemen as a terrorist group. President Joe Biden removed the designation as part of its arms deal with Iran, but may soon redesignate the Houthi military as terrorists.

The spate of Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea over recent weeks spurred the White House decision. Until Saturday, the international response to the attacks has been indifferent. The Ja’fari Shia Iranian government backs the Shia Muslim Houthis against the Saudi-backed Yemeni government that has a Sunni Muslim majority like its Saudi allies.

Republicans in Congress have hotly criticized the Biden Administration for a seeming indifference to the defiant acts of violence by Houthi forces in the Red Sea in recent months. The White House now admits, “We know that Iran was deeply involved in planning the operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea.”

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