Yemen-based Houthi terrorists backed by Iran launched two ballistic missiles towards a U.S. destroyer and a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden. The attack, which took place just past midnight on November 27th, came after the U.S. forces prevented an attempted hijacking of a tanker linked to an Israeli businessman.
The targeted merchant ship, the Liberian-flagged Central Park chemical tanker, is managed by Zodiac Maritime. This UK-based firm is part of the Zodiac Group owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer. Earlier in the day, there were reports about the possible seizure of this vessel by terrorists.
However, the distress signal from the Central Park tanker drew the attention of the USS Mason and its associated aircraft. On reaching the site of the distress call, the destroyer demanded the release of the crew. The five terrorists aboard the merchant ship complied, retreating into their small boat. They attempted to escape but were soon overtaken by the U.S. forces.
U.S. Central Command confirmed the incident, stating that the missiles were fired from Houthi controlled areas in Yemen towards the USS Mason and the Central Park tanker. At the time of the missile launches, the USS Mason was concluding its response to the distress call from the Central Park. Neither of the vessels sustained damage nor reported any injuries.
Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, the commander of USCENTCOM, stressed the importance of maritime domain security for regional stability. He pledged continued collaboration with allies and partners to maintain the safety and security of international shipping lanes.
On Nov. 26, the USS MASON (DDG 87), with allied ships from our coalition counter-piracy task force (TF 151), and associated aircraft responded to a distress call from the M/V CENTRAL PARK, a commercial vessel, that they were under attack by an unknown entity. Upon arrival,… pic.twitter.com/ASmM3b0xrf
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) November 27, 2023
This incident follows a series of attacks on U.S. forces in the region. Since October 17, there have been at least 66 attacks on U.S. forces by various Iranian-backed terrorist groups. These attacks began just ten days after an unprecedented terrorist assault on Israel by Hamas terrorists, who are also backed by Iran.
Reacting to these incidents, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) suggested a “massive retaliation” to deter such attacks on Americans. He emphasized that it is crucial to send a clear message that such acts of aggression will not be tolerated.