US Navy destroys three houthi boats in Red Sea clash

An encounter between the US Navy and Houthi forces in Yemen results in the destruction of three Houthi vessels after an attempted boarding of the Maersk Hangzhou container ship.

As per reports from the US military, four Houthi vessels targeted the Maersk Hangzhou, firing at it and approaching closely. In response to the distress call from the container ship, nearby US warships deployed helicopters. Subsequently, the US helicopters engaged the Houthi attacking boats in an act of self-defense, resulting in the sinking of three vessels and the retreat of the fourth. Unfortunately, the crews on the three sunk boats lost their lives in the encounter.

The Houthi faction in Yemen has been implicated in multiple attacks on ships in the Red Sea since November, reportedly launching over 100 drone and missile assaults on vessels. The group claims these attacks are aimed at ships allegedly associated with Israel, citing opposition to the conflict in Gaza.

The targeted vessel, Maersk Hangzhou, registered in Singapore and operated by a Danish company, was attacked around 06:30 Yemeni time. The Houthi boats, armed with mounted weapons and small arms, attempted to board the container ship. The ship’s crew issued a distress call and defended against the attackers.

Upon receiving the distress call, helicopters from the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier and USS Gravely destroyer rushed to aid the Maersk Hangzhou. They faced gunfire while attempting communication with the small boats and, acting in self-defense, engaged the assailants, sinking three boats and causing the fourth to retreat. No harm was reported to US Navy personnel or equipment.

This incident followed a previous attack on the Maersk Hangzhou a day earlier when anti-ship missiles were reportedly fired from Houthi-controlled areas, prompting responses from the destroyers Gravely and Laboon.

Maersk, a significant global shipping entity, announced a temporary suspension of its Red Sea sailings for 48 hours in response to these attacks. Previously, the company rerouted its ships around the Cape of Good Hope due to escalating risks posed by attacks in the region.

US military sources confirmed the firing of two anti-ship missiles at US navy vessels from Houthi-controlled territories, which were intercepted and neutralized by the USS Gravely.

Despite international efforts to safeguard shipping in the region, the frequency of Houthi attacks has increased, including drone and ballistic missile strikes targeting commercial vessels from various countries passing through the Red Sea.

In order to access the Suez Canal in Egypt, linking to the Mediterranean Sea, ships must traverse the narrow Bab al-Mandab Strait situated near the shores controlled by the Houthi faction in Yemen.

These events involving Houthi attacks have raised concerns within the shipping industry, leading several companies to redirect their vessels away from the Red Sea, choosing alternative routes around the Horn of Africa to ensure the safety of their cargo and crew.

The Red Sea holds strategic importance as a critical passage connecting European and Asian markets, facilitating the transport of oil and natural gas from the Middle East. Analysts caution that continued disruptions in this maritime route could potentially impact global prices.

Efforts to address these threats involve international diplomatic engagements, with officials engaging Iran, linked to supporting the Houthi faction. However, concerns persist over ongoing attacks and their potential repercussions on global maritime trade.

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