The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that two ballistic missiles from Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen were fired toward a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Aden on Nov. 27.
In a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, CENTCOM said the missiles landed approximately 10 nautical miles from the USS Mason (DDG-87), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.
“There was no damage or reported injuries from either vessel during this incident,” the U.S. military combatant command responsible for the Middle East stated.
The destroyer, along with allied ships, was responding to a distress call from a commercial tanker—identified as the Central Park—that had been seized by armed assailants, according to the U.S. military.
Upon arrival at the scene, the USS Mason and its allied ships “demanded release” of the tanker, after which five armed assailants attempted to flee via a small boat.
“Subsequently, five armed individuals debarked the ship and attempted to flee via their small boat,” CENTCOM said.
“The MASON pursued the attackers resulting in their eventual surrender,” the U.S. military combatant command responsible for the Middle East added, noting everyone aboard the Central Park is safe.
CENTCOM did not identify the assailants, but it did confirm that the missiles were fired at approximately 1:41 a.m. local time on Nov. 27 from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen.
The Liberian-flagged Central Park, managed by the company Zodiac Maritime, was carrying phosphoric acid when it was seized.
Zodiac Maritime said its crew of 22 sailors from Bulgaria, Georgia, India, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam were unharmed.
“We would like to thank the coalition forces who responded quickly, protecting assets in the area and upholding international maritime law,” the company said.
Global shipping has increasingly been targeted as the Israel–Hamas war threatens to become a wider regional conflict—even as a truce has halted fighting and the Hamas terrorist group exchanges hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition, blamed Iranian-backed Houthi rebels for the attack, though the rebels in control of the country’s capital, Sanaa, did not acknowledge either the Central Park’s seizure or the missile attack.
“The Yemeni government has renewed its denunciation of the acts of maritime piracy carried out by Houthi terrorists with the support of the Iranian regime, the most recent of which was the hijacking of the Central Park,” according to a statement released by their state-run news agency.
The Houthis are considered a terrorist organization by several countries in the Middle East, including Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Last week, the White House announced that it may designate the rebel group as a terrorist organization after they claimed the seizure of an Israel-linked cargo vessel in the Red Sea.
The group still holds the vessel off the port city of Hodeida.
“That seizure of the motor vessel Galaxy Leader is a flagrant violation of international law,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said. “In light of that recent targeting of civilians by the Houthis, and now the piracy of a ship in international waters, we have begun a review of potential terrorist designation.”
Mr. Kirby added that the “absolutely unacceptable” act was carried out with material support from Iran, and that the administration would also consider “other options” to hit back at the group in consultation with its allies.
“Iran is complicit through its material support and its encouragement of the Houthi forces who conducted the seizure,” he said. “The Houthis ought to release that ship immediately, as well as the crew unconditionally.”
In January 2021, then-President Donald Trump designated the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). The following month, just after taking office, President Joe Biden reversed the Trump administration’s last-minute decision.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.