A commercial tanker and the U.S. destroyer that responded to its distress call were likely not the targets of a missile shot from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, the Pentagon press secretary told reporters Tuesday.
The Pentagon now believes at least one missile was fired by Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters. While it was initially reported that two missiles were fired and fell about 10 nautical miles from USS Mason (DDG-87), Ryder said that the Department of Defense can now only confirm the Houthis fired at least one missile.
Ryder could not say the missile’s target, referring reporters to the Houthis on Tuesday. The missile launched about an hour and 40 minutes after Mason‘s crew boarded M/V Central Park in response to its distress call, Ryder said Monday.
“When it comes to our forces, as I highlighted, we’re going to do whatever we need to do to ensure that they stay protected. I’m not going to telegraph or forecast or speculate on any potential strikes that we might take in the region other than to say we will do what’s necessary to protect our forces,” Ryder said Tuesday.
The Department of Defense also has not yet determined if there is a connection between Yemen and the five Somali individuals still in Navy custody aboard Mason, a defense official told USNI News. The five individuals were picked up by Mason‘s crew while attempting to flee in the direction of Yemen. One of the questions that remains about the alleged Somali pirates who attempted to take M/V Central Park is how they knew the oil tanker is owned by an Israeli businessman.
Companies often use liability shielding, which makes it hard to determine who might own or charter a ship, Campbell Unversity professor Sal Mercogliano told USNI News Monday.
The Department of Defense is still determining where the Somalis came from, their motive and their target, Ryder said.