Destroyer USS Carney Returns Home After Seven-Month Deployment, 51 Houthi Engagements

May 20, 2024 5:41 PM
Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Kris Merrell, from Rogers, Ark., embraces his sons after returning home from deployment. US Navy Photo

USS Carney (DDG-64) had 51 total engagements with Houthi missiles and drones during its time in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, its commanding officer said Monday.

Carney returned home Sunday after a seven-month deployment. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer deployed on Sept. 27, its commanding officer, Cmdr. Jeremy Robertson, told reporters. The ship first sailed with the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which entered the Eastern Mediterranean following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Southern Israel that led to the ongoing destabilization in the region.

The destroyer entered the Red Sea following the attacks and Israel’s subsequent bombardment of Gaza and sailed with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group before returning home.

Carney was the first U.S. ship to engage Houthi missiles and drones on Oct. 19, when its crew used SM-2s to down Houthi land attack missiles, USNI News previously reported.

When the ship deployed, its crew had no idea that most of its time at sea would be spent engaging with Houthi attacks, Robertson said.

Although Robertson gave the total number of engagements, he did not provide a breakdown of how many anti-ship ballistic missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles and drones Carney’s crew took down. The commanding officer offered limited details about how the ship engaged with the Houthi munitions.

But Robertson could talk about the speed of dealing with an incoming anti-ship ballistic missile.

From start to finish, an engagement would last about nine to 20 seconds, he said. That means the crew has seconds to see the incoming missile, decide if it’s a threat, make sure the topside is clear of any crew and engage. This all happens fewer than 30 seconds.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG-64) patrols in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, Dec. 6. US Navy Photo

“An ASBM is just way faster than anything else,” Robertson said.

The ship uses Lockheed Martin’s AN/SPY-1 radar to detect anti-ship ballistic missiles. Carney was not damaged and did not suffer any crew injuries or deaths during its time in the Red Sea.

“But the ASBM threat is very challenging,” Robertson said. “It’s very dynamic, and it’s very fast.”

There was no typical day aboard the destroyer once the Houthi attacks began. Uncertainty was part of operating in the Red Sea.

“Some days you got no activity,” Robertson said. “Some days you had an activity where there’d be a launch and nothing would actually make it into the Red Sea. And some days [were] like Oct. 19, where we had 19 threats.”

Despite training, the crew still faced some anxiety with the unknown of the situation in the Red Sea. But that fell away as a battle mindset took over, he said.

One of the biggest periods of unsettlement was following the first engagement in October. There was a long period of time between the Houthi’s first attack on Oct. 19 and their second on Nov. 15, during which USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) engaged. The third attack was on Nov. 23 and involved Hudner again.

But the long break between the first and second meant the pattern of Red Sea activity was uncertain, Robertson said. It was not clear how the Houthi attacks would affect the commercial traffic flow. But as more attacks happened, the crew fell into a rhythm, the commanding officer said.

“Everything became very instinctual,” he said. “Everything became second nature.”

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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