Pentagon Denies USS Lewis B. Puller Was Attacked; 3 Soldiers Killed in Jordan Strike Identified

January 29, 2024 5:59 PM
USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) participate in a photo exercise in the Gulf of Oman, July 20, 2023. US Navy Photo

The Pentagon denied the Houthis attacked USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) while it sailed through the Gulf of Aden.

Houthi spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Sare’e took to social media site X Monday to claim the Houthis launched a naval missile at Puller, a mobile base used to stage special operations and mine countermeasures forces. Central Command and Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh could not confirm the attack this afternoon, but a defense official denied the attack to USNI News.

The Houthis have said they will attack any ships that stop at Israeli ports or are connected to Israel. Following coordinated strikes by the U.S. and United Kingdom on Jan. 11, the Houthis also added American and British warships to their targets.

This has extended to both commercial and military ships, with the Houthis attacking M/V Marlin Luanda, a ship reported to be owned by British company Oceonix Services Ltd., on Friday. USS Carney (DDG-64), French Navy Frigate FS Alsace (D656) and Indian Navy Frigate INS Visakhapatnam (DD66) helped extinguish the fire that broke out after the Houthi missile hit the cargo ship.

The Houthis have also launched missiles at USS Laboon (DDG-58) and Carney, USNI News previously reported.

Two Navy SEALs – Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Christopher Chambers, 37, and Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Ingram, 27 – died earlier in January during a boarding operation that originated from Puller.

Over the weekend, an Iranian-based proxy group launched a one-way attack drone at a U.S. outpost in Jordan, near the Syria border, according to the Pentagon. Three soldiers were killed when the drone hit the living quarters at Tower 22 installation near the borders of Iraq and Syria. Another 40 personnel were injured, Singh told reporters Monday.

The soldiers who died were Sgt. William Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Ga., Specialist Kennedy Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Ga., and Specialist Breonna Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Ga. All three Army Reserve soldiers were assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, Fort Moore, Ga.

The attack had “the footprints of Kata’ib Hezbollah,” Singh said during the Monday press conference, however, the Department of Defense has not made an official determination about who launched the drone. The attack is still under investigation, according to a Monday Central Command release.

The Pentagon is holding Iran responsible for the attacks, Singh said, noting that Iran arms the proxy groups. The U.S. will respond at its time of choosing, she said.

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

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