Home » Foreign Forces » Officials: 3 U.S. Warships Off Yemen Following Attack on UAE Ship


Officials: 3 U.S. Warships Off Yemen Following Attack on UAE Ship

Sailors on USS Mason (DDG-87) during an anti-submarine formation exercise with the guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) on Aug. 28, 2016. US Navy Photo

Sailors on USS Mason (DDG-87) during an anti-submarine formation exercise with the guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) on Aug. 28, 2016. US Navy Photo

THE PENTAGON — Three U.S. warships are operating off the coast Yemen following a guided missile attack against a UAE operated ship by Houthi rebels, two U.S. defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday.

The ships – guided-missile destroyers USS Nitze (DDG-94), USS Mason (DDG-87) and the afloat forward staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) – are on station off Yemen near the Bab el-Mandeb strait that links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. The strait is a key transit route for ships passing from the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal into the Indian Ocean. The two guided missile destroyers are assigned to the Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group operating in the region.

The presence of the U.S. ships in the region was first reported by Fox News late Monday.

An official told USNI News the move of the trio was prompted by the guided missile attack on the Saturday HSV Swift, a high-speed ferry that was once used by U.S. Military Sealift Command and leased to the UAE. U.S. officials told USNI News the ship was operating in international waters.

“The attack is believed to be related to the ongoing conflict in Yemen and not an attack against general shipping. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command has ships in the area and is working closely with our allies and regional partners to ensure the free flow of commerce,” a separate defense official told USNI News on Tuesday.
“While I can’t discuss our specifics of any response, we do have ships in the area and are working with allies and regional partners. We are committed to ensuring the free flow of commerce.”

Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility for the attack, released a video purporting to show a guided missile striking a ship at night and the eruption of a giant fireball.

USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) in 2015. USS Navy Photo

USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) in 2015. USS Navy Photo

Reports indicate the weapons used could have been Chinese-built C-802 anti-ship missiles (NATO reporting name CSS-N-8 Saccade) or guided anti-tank weapons.

In a statement, the Houthis said, “rockets targeted an Emirati warship as it approached the coast of Mokha” on the Red Sea, reported Al Jazeera.
“It was completely destroyed.”

UAE officials said the ship was involved in an “incident” near the strait but said no one was injured.
Iranian Press TV reported rebels warned the coalition if it sent a ship into “territorial waters” it would be attacked.

Since last year a Saudi-led Arab coalition – which includes UAE – has fought against the Iran backed Shi’a Houthis in Yemen.

Iran has been shipping weapons to the rebels since the start of the conflict. The weapon shipments have occasionally been intercepted by Saudi-allied forces heading into the country.

  • Freeway

    Leave Yemen alone. It’s a shame the USA is acting like a pawn of Saudi Arabia.

    • Boganboy

      You have a point. I can’t see that it matters to the US whether Sunni or Shia terrorists rule Yemen. But the US needs to balance its trade, and the only thing that the Middle Easterners really want to buy that it has to sell are weapons.
      Converting all US electricity generation to nukes, and using nuclear power to convert the surplus coal and gas into synthetic oil would make the US completely independent of foreign oil. This’d certainly cost far less than has been spent on the Middle Eastern wars.
      Perhaps Trump’s economic nationalism’ll mean this policy’ll be implemented, if he’s elected. Certainly a policy of autarchy makes better sense than involvement in endless foreign wars.

      • Freeway

        To be honest the Zaydi sect (often mentioned as Shia) in Yemen are the best group. They tend to themselves and mind their own business. They are also efficient at eliminating Saudi funded Wahhabi terrorists.

        Hillary Clinton will start SEVERAL new wars if she becomes president. She must be stopped.

        • Ned_Kelly_707

          And remember, those who vote FOR Miz Hilary Rodham Clinton will also be stocking the White House with a known impeached rapist as First Gentleman. Just one more thing to consider, if you are on the fence, this November…

          • Freeway

            Oh I’m def not for Hillary. She’s deep in the pocket of special interest.

      • Phil Blank

        The US pumped so much oil and gas that they pumped themselves right out of a job working the rigs.

        We don’t need OPEC oil!

        Oil-Sands Glut Jams Pipes to U.S., Making Rail Next Option
        September 25 | Bloomberg Business

        Canada is sending a record amount of oil to the U.S., filling pipelines to capacity and threatening to push more crude into rail cars.

        U.S. imports from its northern neighbor jumped 17 percent to 3.46 million barrels a day last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday in a preliminary report. That’s the most since the agency began collecting such data in 2010. Exports have surged as Alberta recovers from wildfires that disrupted supplies earlier this year.

        • El_Sid

          The US is still a net importer of oil, around 5 million barrels per day (ie 2.5 supertankers per day), plus around 2.5 million barrels of refining for foreign customers. Canada, Mexico and Venezuela can supply much of that 5 million, but it does leave energy security in the hands of Mexico and Venezuela…

      • Red Baron

        Not to mention that the U.S. makes itself the poster boy for terrorism by our actions over there. Drone attacks, interference in many Middle Eastern countries to include outright invasion. As for balancing trade, the military-industrial complex doesn’t care about that. All they want is big juicy profits. If that means selling military hardware to dictatorships, so be it!

  • Ed L

    Our Vessel that was leased to the UAE? Does that mean civilian contractors on board? What was their nationality?

    • El_Sid

      It’s never belonged to the US goverrnment – the MSC leased it from Incat until 2013 as a trials ship, and then Sealift bought it and leased it to the Emiratis.

      FWIW, Fox are reporting Pentagon officials saying that the crew are all safe and the ship is under tow to Eritrea, Janes report official UAE sources saying no injuries. So it sounds a bit like the Hanit incident. Ansar Allah does have a bit of form for claiming hits on ships, sounds like this time they actually did it.

      • Red Baron

        Hard to believe everyone survived that hit and fire, as reports during a war are to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

  • John Locke

    …..and the Navy just awarded another $250M for two more of these.

    https://news DOT usni DOT org/2016/09/19/austal-usa-awarded-249m-two-expeditionary-fast-transports-launches-latest-hull

    Just think if that had been loaded with U.S. troops and supplies.

    Wake up! It’s not the Cold War. The Russians aren’t the only ones who can buy ASM’s anymore.

    EPF’s, CVN’s and LCS’………… Escort Required

    • DaSaint

      At least we now know that they don’t sink as easily as we thought. Especially considering that they were completely a commercial configuration, not armed, no ESM, no ECM, operating alone and with limited sensors.

  • chris chuba

    I hope ‘international shipping’ means protecting ships coming to and from the Suez canal and not escorting Saudi mercenaries to Yemen.

    • Red Baron

      Oh, sure. Wink, Wink. “International shipping” includes ships going anywhere, to INCLUDE Yemen. I suspect a lot of intelligence gathering is going on to pass along to the Saudis. Such wonderful allies they are, so let’s help them bomb Yemen back BEYOND the Stone Age.

  • John B. Morgen

    The straits must remain open, so world markets do [NOT] crash due to wild oil speculation in prices caused by mere SSMs attacks against merchant traffic. We, NATO and Saudi Arabia; plus, other nation-states must maintain a consist flow of trade, if not, then we all will return the mess as if the Iran-Iraqi War had never ended.

    • Secundius

      I suspect the Reason the “Ponce” is there because, It having the Only Operational Laser Cannon in the Fleet. New Round of “LIVE FIRE” Testing is about to Begin…

      • John B. Morgen

        Any body’s war is a good testing ground for new weapon systems to be tested, we did it during the Vietnam War, the Middle East Wars, and the Gulf Wars. This is just prelude for a much greater war…..

        • Red Baron

          Our Perpetual War Policy will kill us in the end. We simply cannot afford this forever. We will be like Great Britain, a shadow of our once greatness. We are wearing out our ships, aircraft, and other military hardware at astounding rates because they are utilized at a much higher rate than ever anticipated. The money is not there to replace everything. So there will be a downsizing, like it or not.

          • John B. Morgen

            The money is there, but we must be victorious or be defeated. Being defeated is unacceptable considering what type enemies that we have outside our gates. How strong is our National Will is the main question. We may have to bring back the Draft, and may have to fully mobilized the nation-state on a complete war footing, in order to defeat these floating enemies. This is a life and death issue, and not an issue about figuring out what to buy from a local store.

        • Secundius

          The NAVY us the AN/SEQ-3 30-kW LaWS in 2014 and 2015. The “NEXT” Schedule Test were for the 50-kW LaWS system. I Wonder if they (the US Navy) plans to Employ That System…

          • John B. Morgen

            That would depend on the Navy’s budget, or what program’s budget be sacrifice in order to deploy the system.

        • Secundius

          Something you might be Interested in? Italy is Modifying their “Cavour” class Light Aircraft Carrier to accept F/AV-35B’s. According to “War Is Boring”, Italy is in Negotiations to Acquire ~12 F/AV-35B’s with Lockmart.

          However it’s Unclear whether they (the Italians) plan to Modify their “Giuseppe Garibaldi” class Light Aircraft Carrier as well…

          • John B. Morgen

            Indeed, this is an excellent example how small aircraft carriers’ sea control missions can be enhanced by deploying F/A-35Bs. I suspect that the Italians would have to modify their light aircraft carrier at some certain extend to accommodate the F/AV-35B; mainly because the F/A-35Bs are quite more advanced than the AV-8Bs. However, I would hope Japan would hurry up to purchase the F/V-35Bs for their small aircraft carriers; although, there’s been some talks about the procurement processes..This is good to hear—thanks!

          • Secundius

            Maybe the Italian’s were anticipating an F/AV-35B acquisition at a Later Date. The “Giuseppe Garibaldi” was Fitted with a 6.5* Ski-Jump and the “Cavour” with a 12* Ski-Jump. Maybe Spain will Follow Suit on their “Rey Juan Carlos I” class Strategic Projection Ship fitted with a 12* Ski-Jump.

            Talk is that Turkey, is interested in Acquiring a “Rey Juan Carlos I” class Gator-Freighter. But Without the Ski-Jump…

          • John B. Morgen

            Well! Maybe, or not. I have found that the Europeans have incorporated ski-jumps designs into their aircraft carriers, except for France. As for Turkey, without using a ski-jump on a freighter is a major mistake because Ski-jumps are the quickest way to get an AV-8B or even F/V-35B airborne.

          • Secundius

            Also Shortens Take-Off Distance. Without a Ski-Jump, an F/AV-35B requires ~800-feet of Runway Run. With 12* Ski-Jump, Distance is Reduced to ~435-feet…

          • John B. Morgen

            From starting point the aircraft is taking off at full throttle, it really doesn’t matter because the ski-jump is adding lift.

    • Red Baron

      Please. . . exactly WHY is it OUR responsibility to use our military in support of “world markets”? They did NOT attack a commercial ship, so all this nonsense is pure political cover to send 3 American ships to help. A fig leaf of an excuse. World shipping would not be in Yemeni territorial waters. Do some critical thinking.

      • El_Sid

        A C-802 could comfortably hit the far side of the Bab Al Mandeb, so territorial waters are moot.

        It’s not in the strategic interest of the US (or Israel) to see Suez closed to shipping. The US economy benefits hugely from “world markets” – whether it’s sourcing tantalum from Ethiopia and Rwanda to go into iPhones, or selling those iPhones to people in Asia and Europe. Asians and Europeans could quite happily live without buying iPhones, but that trade significantly boosts US trade and tax revenues. That’s just one example, there’s plenty more – the 1930s demonstrates what happens when you don’t have “world markets”.

      • John B. Morgen

        Our (the United States) economic interests are so intertwine with other nation-states’ economic markets, whereby cannot be separated by one national flag—everyone is affected. Therefore, the United States must protect our interests by sending in our warships, in order to maintained a more stable international world market from collapsing..

  • Phil Blank

    Wasn’t sunk!
    The wrecked vessel has been towed to a UAE port. An investigation is under way by the Coalition forces.

  • Ike_Kiefer

    So if the U.S. Military Sealift Command owned the ship and were leasing it to the UAE, is it not our property, and therefore an attack on the USA?

    • Red Baron

      Nonsense. Was not flying an American flag. Not an American ship in that sense. It “belongs” in the proper sense to the UAE. Whoever they leased it from will be the ones collecting reimbursement from them.

  • Jahaya

    Don’t know why we are there. We can’t shoot anything. Our president has a float and don’t shoot policy for our navy. Oh, and surrender if you’re approached by a speedboat.

    • Red Baron

      We need to stop meddling in the Middle East. Let them all kill each other, but NOT with American weapons. We need to stay out of Middle East disputes. Does nothing but make things worse.

      • spacemtn61

        I agree with that statement. We need to stop trying to offer a 21st century solution to a 7th century problem. Let them kill each other.

    • spacemtn61

      WHEN did any of this happen? When the speed boat approached we fired over their bow(standard S.O.P.) and they took off. And I guess you didn’t read how our ships just destroyed 3 radar installations inside Yemen.

  • Red Baron

    This is pure nonsense. The ship was attacked in territorial waters. This was not an attack on general shipping. So exactly why are we sending THREE ships there? More than likely to get involved in some way, like we always do. Apparently, there are still a few Yemenis alive yet after Saudi Arabia bombed everything it possibly could to include schools and hospitals. Keep supplying dictatorships with American weaponry because the military-industrial complex must be fed mega-profits.

    • spacemtn61

      Because they fired at our ship. We have to patrol these waters so Iran and Russia don’t set up blockades.

      • Secundius

        Russia Relies on the Same Shipping Routes for Their Merchant Fleet…

        • spacemtn61

          Do you think Russia wouldn’t allow their own ships to pass?

  • blujkts

    Here’s the deal: This is a US owned ship. It was an attack on the US. The US has a feckless foreign policy. What would Reagan do?

    • John B. Morgen

      You’d would have to start from the beginning, starting from the First Gulf War. President Reagan might have allowed our forces to finished off Saddam in Iraq. No Saddam and no Baath Party. Finish the job, so Bush the Younger doesn’t amuck things up.

  • Anti-Propaganda

    This is a wake-up call to all propagandists of the dangers Iran pose to shipping. To report that the crews sustained injuries is nonsense. Everyone on that ship appear roasted. This attack has Iran’s signature all over it and literally frightened Saudi Arabia.

    • jerseydave

      Oh yes, an Antiship missile, handling and targeting gear, and trained crew? Definitely Iran is in this up to their eyeballs.

  • Charles Haas

    Interesting to see the USS Ponce on the scence. Likely a good chance to test out its laser. I am sure all the sailors hope it works dropping ASCM from the sky.