U.S. Destroys Four Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles in Yemen; Houthis Hit Malta-Flagged Bulk Carrier

January 16, 2024 6:42 PM - Updated: January 17, 2024 4:17 PM
Red Sea. NASA Photo

U.S. forces destroyed four Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles on the ground on Tuesday morning, U.S. Central Command announced in a news release.

The latest strike on Houthi weapons comes after the Houthis struck a U.S.-owned container ship with an anti-ship ballistic missile.

Tensions in the Red Sea have continued to rise following a series of United States and United Kingdom strikes on Houthi weaponry and military infrastructure. Although the Houthis initially said they would strike Israel-affiliated ships or those traveling to or from the country, the organization has now said it considers U.S. and U.K. ships targets.

“The Yemeni armed forces consider all American and British ships and warships participating in the aggression against our country as hostile targets within the target bank of our forces,” reads a Houthi statement posted on social media site X by spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam following the strike on M/V Gibraltar Eagle. “The Yemeni Armed Forces confirm that a response to the American and British attacks is inevitably coming, and that any new attack will not remain without response and punishment.”

While U.S. ships have shot down Houthi drones and missiles, it was not until Jan. 10, when USS Laboon (DDG-58), USS Gravely (DDG-107), USS Mason (DDG-87) and F/A-18 Super Hornet from USS Dwight. D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), as well as the United Kingdom Royal Navy’s HMS Diamond (D34), shot down 18 one-way attack unmanned aerial vehicles, two anti-ship cruise missiles and one anti-ship ballistic missile, that U.S. officials said the Houthis were attacking U.S. ships.

On Sunday, the Houthis launched an anti-ship cruise missile at Laboon in the first targeted attack following the coordinated U.K.-U.S. strikes on Houthi sites.

On Tuesday, the Houthis also launched an anti-ship ballistic missile at the international shipping lanes in the Red Sea, hitting M/V Zografia, which sailed under a Malta flag, according to the Central Command statement. No injuries were reported, and the bulk carrier continued transiting the Red Sea. The BBC reported Zografia is Greek-owned.

The Houthis have said they are attacking ships in the Red Sea in support of Palestine and in protest of Israel’s ongoing bombing of Gaza as part of the Israel-Hamas conflict, which began Oct. 7 after Hamas militants launched attacks in southern Israel.

“We reiterate that there is no ban on any ship except those linked to the criminal Zionist enemy or those heading to its ports in occupied Palestine,” Abdulsalam said via X on Tuesday.

Other countries in the Middle East have also said that the tensions in the Red Sea are linked to the ongoing conflict. Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the root cause of the Red Sea tension is Israel’s bombing of Gaza while speaking at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, according to the Middle East Monitor.

“We need to address the real issue, which is Gaza, in order to get everything else defused. We shouldn’t just focus on those small conflicts, we should focus on the main conflict in Gaza, and as soon as it’s defused, I believe everything else will be defused,” Al Thani said, according to the Middle East Monitor‘s reporting.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, also called for a ceasefire at the meeting, saying the Red Sea attacks are linked to Israel’s bombing of Gaza, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox