Houthis say US ship hit in Gulf of Aden attack

Houthis say US ship hit in Gulf of Aden attack
CENTCOM says that no injuries and damage was made after Houthi missiles targeted a US-owned tanker ship
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Houthis have claimed responsibility for strike on US ship in Gulf of Aden [Getty]

Yemen's Houthi group claimed early Friday they had carried out a missile attack on a US ship in the Gulf of Aden.

The Houthis said in a statement posted on their social media that their "naval forces... carried out a targeting operation against an American ship" - identified as the Chem Ranger - "with several appropriate naval missiles, resulting in direct hits".

It did not give a time or other details for the latest attack in international shipping lanes.

Despite the group claiming they had scored a "direct hit" the munitions missed their target, according to a later update by the US military.

"On Jan. 18 at approximately 9 pm (Sanaa time), Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles at M/V Chem Ranger, a Marshall Island-flagged, US-Owned, Greek-operated tanker ship. The crew observed the missiles impact the water near the ship. There were no reported injuries or damage to the ship," US Central Command said in a post on X.

Houthi aggression against vessels in and around the Red Sea has led to strikes in Yemen by US and British forces, with the United States reporting its latest attack on Houthi targets on Thursday.

The specialist website Marine Traffic identified the Chem Ranger as a Marshall Islands-flagged chemical tanker sailing from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Kuwait.

British maritime risk management company Ambrey said a Marshallese chemical tanker sailing along the same route had reported a "suspicious" approach by drones southeast of the Yemeni port of Aden.

One fell in the sea approximately 30 metres from the tanker, it added. "An Indian warship responded to the event."

"There were no crew casualties or damage reported," the monitor said.

The British maritime security agency UKMTO, without naming the vessel, also reported an incident in the same area in which a drone approached a merchant ship, with an explosion reported in the water about 30 metres away.

"Coalition forces are responding, vessel and crew are safe, vessel proceeding to next port," it said in a bulletin.

Continued strikes 

The Houthis have launched numerous attacks on Red Sea shipping since the war in Gaza erupted on October 7.

The Houthi statement said the rebels were acting against "the oppression of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and within the response to the American-British aggression against our country".

As the United States announced its latest attack on the Houthis on Thursday, President Joe Biden said the strikes would continue until the Iran-backed rebels stopped targeting ships in the Red Sea.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that US forces had hit "a couple of anti-ship missiles that we had reason to believe were being prepared for imminent fire into the southern Red Sea".

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said US Navy warplanes carried out the latest strikes, and that the air raids that began against the Houthis last week had been able to "degrade and severely disrupt and destroy a significant number of their capabilities".

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Several major shipping firms have halted their traffic through the area because of the attacks.

Russia on Thursday said the United States should halt its strikes against the Houthis to aid a diplomatic resolution to the attacks on merchant vessels.

"The most important thing now is to stop the aggression against Yemen, because the more the Americans and the British bomb, the less willing the Houthis are to talk," Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

Denmark, meanwhile, said Thursday it would join the coalition behind the air strikes against the Houthis.

The Scandinavian country, which has previously said it would send a frigate to the region, is home to shipping giant Maersk, which is among the firms to have rerouted ships away from the Red Sea.