US Navy/Bill Mesta/Reuters/File
The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Mason tows alongside a fleet replenishment oil tanker in the Atlantic Ocean on July 17, 2021.
Two ballistic missiles were fired from Houthi rebel-held Yemen at a US warship in the Gulf of Aden after the US Navy responded to a distress call about a commercial tanker seized by armed men, the US military said on Sunday.
The tanker, identified as the Central Park, was carrying a cargo of phosphoric acid when its crew called for help when they were attacked by an unknown entity, US Central Command said in a statement. Report.
The incident comes after Iran-backed Houthi forces launched several attacks against US interests in the region and in Israel, as fears of an escalating Israel-Hamas war continue to swirl across the region following the October 7 Hamas attacks.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Mason, an anti-piracy task force operating in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, and its companion ships responded to a call for help and “requested the release of the vessel” upon arrival, Central Command said.
“Following this, five armed men disembarked from the ship and tried to escape in their small boat,” said a statement posted on social media site X.
“Mason pursued the assailants, resulting in their eventual surrender,” the report added, without identifying the assailants.
Hours later, at 1:41 a.m. local time Monday, two ballistic missiles were fired from areas controlled by Houthi rebels in Yemen “toward the USS Mason and the general area” of Central Park, the statement said.
“The missiles landed in the Gulf of Aden about ten nautical miles from the ships,” the statement said.
Mason was finishing his response to Central Park’s distress call when the missile was launched. It added that there was no damage or injuries from Central Park or Mason as a result.
A statement released by Zodiac Maritime, which manages Central Park, said Sunday that the Liberian-flagged chemical tanker was safe and “all crew, vessel and cargo unharmed.”
The tanker appears to be associated with an Israeli-owned company; Zodiac Sea is listed Jani Jarvinen, a spokesman for Zodiac Maritime, a business owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Offer Global, said Sunday that Zodiac “is not owned by Offer Global.”
US Central Command commander General Eric Guerrilla said in a statement on Sunday that maritime domain security is “essential to regional stability”.
“We will continue to work with allies and partners to ensure the safety and security of international shipping lanes,” Guerrilla said.