In Red Sea, the United States Navy successfully thwarted an attempted boarding of the Maersk Hangzhou by Houthi-controlled forces from Yemen.
Four small boats, armed with mounted weapons and small arms, fired upon the container ship and managed to approach within 20 meters before US military helicopters intervened.
In the ensuing confrontation, the US military sank three of the Houthi boats in self-defense, resulting in the death of their crews, while the fourth boat fled the area.
The incident unfolded at approximately 06:30 Yemeni time, prompting the crew of the Maersk Hangzhou to issue a distress call.
Responding to the call for help, helicopters from the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier and USS Gravely destroyer engaged the Houthi forces, encountering gunfire in the process.
The helicopters returned fire, sinking three of the attacking boats and neutralizing the threat. Fortunately, no damage was recorded to US personnel or equipment.
The commercial ship targeted in this brazen attack is the Maersk Hangzhou, registered in Singapore and operated by a Danish firm.
The vessel had fallen victim to a previous attack just 24 hours prior, and the recent escalation has compelled Maersk, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, to halt sailings through the Red Sea for 48 hours temporarily.
The Houthi rebel group, with alleged backing from Iran, has been escalating its attacks on shipping in the Red Sea since November. Over 100 drone and missile attacks on vessels passing through this vital shipping lane have been reported.
The rebels claim to be targeting ships linked to Israel in response to the conflict in Gaza.
This recent incident marks a significant development in the ongoing conflict, with the US Navy actively engaging Houthi forces.
A US Navy admiral revealed that Saturday’s missile attack was the first successful strike since the initiation of a global patrol on December 18.
Anti-ship missiles were fired at the USS Gravely and USS Laboon, which successfully intercepted and destroyed the incoming threats.
This marks the twenty-third reported “illegal attack by the Houthis on international shipping” since November 19, according to US Central Command (Centcom).
Maersk Hangzhou, reportedly seaworthy with no reported injuries on board, endured the second attack while transiting through the Red Sea.
Maersk had recently resumed using the route after the US and its allies launched a mission to protect ships in the area.
Previously, the shipping company had diverted its vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, taking a longer route to avoid the heightened risks in the Red Sea.
Over several weeks, the rise in Houthi attacks has prompted numerous shipping firms, including Maersk, to divert their vessels away from the Red Sea, opting for the longer route around the Horn of Africa.
Ships navigating through the Bab al-Mandab Strait, just off the coast of Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, are required to pass through to reach the Suez Canal in Egypt, connecting to the Mediterranean Sea.
In a related incident, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported an occurrence in the Red Sea, approximately 55 nautical miles southwest of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah.
An unidentified ship reported a loud bang, a flash on the port bow, and several explosions. Fortunately, no damage was recorded, and all crew members escaped unharmed, with the vessel seeking refuge in a nearby port.
The Houthi rebel group has persistently claimed to target “Israel-linked” commercial ships in response to the conflict in Gaza.
This has prompted the UK Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, to assert that Iran shares responsibility for preventing these attacks due to its longstanding support for the Houthis.
As tensions escalate in the Red Sea, the international community is closely monitoring the situation.
The successful intervention by the US Navy underscores the complex dynamics at play in the region, with geopolitical rivalries contributing to the volatility of maritime security.
The need for a coordinated international response to safeguard vital shipping lanes remains crucial as the situation unfolds.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members