US Navy helicopters retaliated against Houthi boats in the Red Sea following an attempted hijack on a Danish container ship, the Maersk Hangzhou, resulting in the sinking of three vessels.
The USS Eisenhower's helicopters intervened after the Maersk Hangzhou encountered aggression from four Houthi-controlled boats from Yemen. The boats opened fire and approached dangerously close to the container ship, prompting the US military response.
Centcom reported that the crew onboard the Houthi boats attempted to board the Maersk Hangzhou, prompting the ship's security team to issue a distress call and return fire. Helicopters from the USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely responded to the call but were fired upon while attempting to communicate verbally with the boats.
In self-defense, the helicopters engaged, sinking three of the four Houthi boats and causing the fourth to flee. Despite the attacks, no US personnel or equipment sustained damage.
The Maersk Hangzhou, registered in Singapore and owned by a Danish firm, resumed travel through the Red Sea recently after the US and its allies initiated efforts to protect ships in the area.
This incident marks the second attack on the Maersk Hangzhou within 24 hours, with a missile assault reported earlier. These aggressive actions have led Maersk to suspend sailings through the Red Sea for 48 hours, citing safety concerns.
Houthi forces have been targeting ships in the Red Sea since November, with over 100 drone and missile attacks aimed at vessels navigating the critical shipping lane. The attacks have prompted many shipping companies to divert their routes, bypassing the Red Sea and choosing alternative, longer paths. The rise in assaults has raised concerns about the safety of shipping lanes, particularly those vital for transporting oil and natural gas from the Middle East.
Photo by Andrzej Otrębski, Wikimedia commons.