Aerial Drone Likely Launched by Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Hits Ship in the Red Sea

DUBAI (AP) — An aerial drone likely launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck and damaged a vessel in the Red Sea on Sunday, officials said, the latest attack by the group targeting the vital maritime corridor.

The attack comes as the U.S. has sent the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower back home after an eight-month deployment that saw it lead the American response to the Houthi assaults. Those attacks have seen shipping drastically drop through the route crucial to Asian, Middle East, and European markets in a campaign the Houthis say will continue as long as the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip rages on.

The drone attack happened around dawn off the coast of the rebel-held port city of Hodeida, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said. It said the vessel sustained damage but its mariners on board “were reported safe.” It did not elaborate on the extent of the damage, but said an investigation was ongoing.

The private security firm Ambrey identified the ship involved as a Liberia-flagged container ship bound for Qingdao, China.

The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack. However, it can take the rebels hours or even days to acknowledge their assaults.

The Houthis have launched more than 60 attacks targeting specific vessels and fired off other missiles and drones in their campaign that has killed a total of four sailors. They have seized one vessel and sunk two since November. A U.S.-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes on May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

The Houthis have maintained that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States, or Britain. However, many of the ships attacked have little or no connection to the Israel-Hamas war — including those bound for the Houthis’ main benefactor, Iran.

The Eisenhower, based in Norfolk, Virginia, is returning home after an over eight-month deployment in combat that the Navy says is its most intense since World War II. The San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt will take the Eisenhower’s place after a scheduled exercise in the Indo-Pacific, said Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder.

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