Unprecedented Attacks on Commercial Vessels Unfold in Red Sea – Maritime Security at Forefront

Houthi Rebels Claim Responsibility as USS Carney Engages Drones, Prompting International Coordination for Appropriate Responses


In a series of alarming incidents unfolding today, December 3, in the maritime domain adjacent to Yemen and the Bab el Mandeb Strait, three commercial vessels navigating the Red Sea fell victim to targeted attacks, as per the latest report from the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). The events transpired following an earlier assertion by Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility for assaulting two ships and declared Israeli-affiliated vessels as “legitimate targets.”

CENTCOM, in its updated statement, corroborated initial reports of the USS Carney’s involvement in multiple encounters within the Red Sea, specifically in response to Houthi assaults on merchant vessels. The destroyer successfully intercepted at least two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), dispelling speculations of the U.S. warship being a direct target. CENTCOM clarified, stating, “The drone was headed toward Carney,” but the specific target remains unclear at present.

Attributing the attacks to Houthi insurgents in Yemen, CENTCOM asserted that there is compelling evidence of Iran’s full enablement of these assaults. The United States pledged to evaluate all suitable responses, coordinating closely with international allies and partners.

Earlier in the day, the United Kingdom Trade Operations group (UKMTO) released three separate alerts regarding uncrewed aerial systems in the proximity of the Bab el Mandeb, cautioning ships about potential explosions and urging vigilance in reporting suspicious activities.

In a broadcast statement, a spokesperson for Yemeni Houthi forces confirmed a targeted operation against two Israeli ships, identified as the Unity Explorer and the Number 9. Allegedly, the vessels disregarded warnings, prompting a drone attack on one and a missile strike on the other.

CENTCOM verified that both the Unity Explorer and the Number 9 sustained minor damages in three separate attacks. Subsequently, the AOM Sophie II, a Japanese-owned bulker, reported a distress call, claiming a missile strike. CENTCOM responded promptly, though no significant damage was reported on the vessel en route from Venezuela to China.

The sequence of attacks unfolded throughout the day, with the first incident occurring at approximately 9:15 a.m. Sanaa time. The Unity Explorer, a 60,650 deadweight tonnage (dwt) bulker, and the Number 9, a 4,250 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containership, were the initial targets. The maritime community remains on high alert as international warnings of heightened regional activity persist, with recent incidents, including the boarding of a chemical tanker and a reported explosion near an Indian Ocean route, amplifying concerns over the security of maritime transit in the area.

(US Navy file photo)

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