Houthi attacks on shipping continue

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Houthi forces in Yemen continue to disrupt shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden with further attacks against civil and military vessels.

In the latest incident, US Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that on Tuesday 6 February, six Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs) were launched, with three attempting to hit the MV Star Nasia, a Marshall Island-flagged, Greek owned-and-operated bulk carrier transiting the Gulf of Aden: at 3:20 am, the vessel reported an explosion near the ship causing minor damage but no injuries. Later in the day, another missile impacted the water near the ship with no effect. Yesterday afternoon, the US Navy vessel USS Laboon (DDG 58), operating near MV Star Nasia, intercepted and shot down a third anti-ship ballistic missile fired by the Houthis, but MV Star Nasia remains seaworthy and is continuing toward its destination.

CENTCOM said the remaining three ASBMs were likely targeting the MV Morning Tide, a Barbados-flagged, UK-owned cargo ship operating in the Southern Red Sea. The three missiles impacted the water near the ship without effect.

The day before, on 5 February, CENTCOM destroyed two Houthi explosive uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs). “US forces identified the explosive USVs in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined they presented an imminent threat to US Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region,” the Command said.

This came after the USS Carney on 2 February engaged and shot down one unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Gulf of Aden. Later that same day, CENTCOM forces conducted strikes against four Houthi UAVs that were prepared to launch and that evening the USS Laboon and F/A-18 strike fighters from the Dwight D Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group engaged and shot down seven UAVs over the Red Sea.

A single UAV was shot down over the Gulf of Aden the previous day, while a Houthi explosive USV was also destroyed in the Red Sea after it was seen heading toward the international shipping lane. It appears the merchant vessel Koi was also targeted by two anti-ship ballistic missiles, but they missed the vessel.

In response to these attacks, CENTCOM has carried out multiple strikes against Houthi missiles and sites in Yemen. The largest episode of the last week came on 3 February when CENTCOM forces alongside UK Armed Forces and with the support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand conducted strikes against 36 Houthi targets at 13 locations in Houthi controlled areas of Yemen. “These multilateral coalition strikes focused on targets in Houthi-controlled Yemen used to attack international merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region,” CENTCOM said.