Houthi Drone Attack Damages Vessel in Red Sea Amid Ongoing Tensions

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An aerial drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck and damaged a vessel in the Red Sea on Sunday, officials said, the latest attack by the group targeting shipping in the vital maritime corridor, reports AP News.

About the incident

The attack comes as the U.S. has sent the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower back home after an eight-month deployment in which it led the American response to the Houthi assaults. Those attacks have drastically reduced shipping through the route crucial to Asian, Middle Eastern, and European markets in a campaign the Houthis say will continue as long as the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip rages on.

The drone attack happened around dawn off the coast of the rebel-held port city of Hodeida, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations Center said. It said the vessel sustained damage but its mariners on board “were reported safe.” It did not elaborate on the extent of the damage to the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier, but said an investigation was ongoing.

Hours after the attack, Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree claimed the attack, saying the rebels targeted the Transworld Navigator. Saree claimed without offering evidence the rebels used a drone boat in the attack, something contradicted by other reports on the assault.

The U.S. military’s Central Command also identified the vessel by the same name, saying several mariners on board suffered minor injuries from the attack.

The Transworld Navigator “most recently docked in Malaysia and was en route to Egypt,” Central Command said. “This marks the fourth attack by Iranian-backed Houthis on the” vessel.

The Houthis have launched more than 60 attacks targeting specific vessels and fired off other missiles and drones in their campaign, killing a total of four sailors. They have seized one vessel and sunk two since November. A U.S.-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes on May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

The Houthis have maintained that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States, or Britain. However, many of the ships attacked have little or no connection to the Israel-Hamas war — including those bound for the Houthis’ main benefactor, Iran.

The Eisenhower, based in Norfolk, Virginia, is returning home after an over-eight-month deployment in combat that the Navy says is its most intense since World War II. The San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt will take the Eisenhower’s place after a scheduled exercise in the Indo-Pacific, said Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder.

The Roosevelt anchored Saturday in Busan, South Korea, amid Seoul’s ongoing tensions with North Korea.

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Source: AP News