Red Sea Conflict: US Neutralises 3 Houthi Vessels, 10 Fatalities
In a significant maritime confrontation in the Red Sea, U.S. military helicopters successfully thwarted an incursion by Houthi militants, backed by Iran, against a Maersk container ship. This defensive action led to the sinking of three militant vessels and the neutralization of ten assailants, as confirmed by sources from the U.S., Maersk, and Houthi representatives on Sunday.
The incident unfolded near 03:30 GMT on Sunday, targeting the Singapore-flagged vessel, Maersk Hangzhou. In response to a distress signal, helicopters from both the USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely were deployed, assisting the ship’s security forces in effectively countering the Houthi attack, as reported by the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).
Following the recent Red Sea attack, Maersk announced a temporary halt to all its Red Sea operations for 48 hours.
A Houthi spokesperson stated the assault was a response to the ship crew’s disregard for their warnings, resulting in 10 Houthi naval members either perishing or missing after a U.S. counterattack.
This naval conflict highlights the growing risk of wider regional hostilities. This comes as Israel persists in its bombing campaign, initiated in response to a surprise Hamas attack on Israeli towns on October 7, which led to 1,200 deaths and 240 hostages. Gazan health officials report over 21,800 casualties due to Israel’s ongoing air and artillery strikes.
Since November, Yemen’s Houthi rebels have been attacking ships in the Red Sea to support Hamas. Furthermore, this has led major shippers to avoid the Suez Canal, opting for the longer, more expensive route via Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.
The Red Sea serves as a crucial gateway for vessels entering the Suez Canal, a key conduit for global trade. It facilitates approximately 12% of the world’s trade, playing an essential role in transporting goods between Asia and Europe.
On December 19, the United States initiated Operation Prosperity Guardian. Over 20 countries agreed to join this effort to protect ships near Yemen in the Red Sea.
Maersk, a leading global cargo shipper, resumed Red Sea navigation on December 24. Despite this, ongoing attacks and half-hearted coalition support from U.S. allies persist, with many not publicly disclosing their involvement.
The Maersk Hangzhou, carrying 14,000 containers from Singapore, was targeted for the second time in two days. A missile struck the ship about 55 nautical miles southwest of Al Hodeidah, Yemen, on Saturday.
Maersk confirmed the safety of the Maersk Hangzhou’s crew, with no fire onboard. The ship proceeded north towards the Suez Canal.