Iran-Backed Houthis Fire Missiles At USS Mason In ‘Significant Escalation’

The Iran-backed Houthis, which President Joe Biden delisted as a terrorist organization in early 2021, have reportedly fired ballistic missiles in Yemen toward a U.S. destroyer, according to U.S. Central Command.

The attack from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen came after the USS Mason — an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer that is part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group — responded to a distress call from a commercial vessel.

The vessel — a tanker sailing under the Liberian flag named M/V Central Park, managed by Zodiac Maritime — was issuing a distress call from approximately 35 miles south of Yemen’s coast in the Gulf of Aden, according to the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations.

Zodiac Maritime has reported that the tanker was carrying phosphoric acid and had a crew of sailors from Bulgaria, Georgia, India, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam.

When the USS Mason arrived, they saw that the M/V Central Park was facing attack by unknown armed forces, and several gunmen had already successfully boarded the vessel. Upon seeing the USS Mason, five gunmen fled the ship and tried to escape on a small boat — but the U.S. destroyer was able to track the armed pirates down and detain them. The crew of the M/V Central Park was reportedly unharmed during the incident.

However, “two ballistic missiles were fired from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen toward the general location of the USS Mason and M/V Central Park” on Sunday, according to a statement from the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM).

The missiles reportedly landed in the Gulf of Aden roughly ten nautical miles from the USS Mason and the M/V Central Park, CENTCOM reported. The failed attack did not cause any injuries or damage to the ships.

According to reporting from Fox News chief national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin, the ballistic missiles were fired by Houthi rebels in what represents a “significant escalation” in attacks from Iran.

“Two senior U.S. officials tell me that Houthi forces fired two ballistic missiles at the USS Mason this evening in the Gulf of Aden following the Navy’s arrest of 5 gunmen who tried to hijack the MV Central Park. The U.S. Navy successfully rescued the vessel,” Griffin wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“USS Mason, an Arleigh Burke Class destroyer, tracked the ballistic missiles as they approached but both missiles fell short splashing into the Gulf of Aden,” she added. “This is viewed as significant escalation in Houthi threats to U.S. Navy vessels, according to multiple well-placed sources.”

The government of Yemen has also placed the blame for the attack on Iran-backed Houthi rebels, issuing a statement about the attempted seizure of the M/V Central Park.

“The Yemeni government has renewed its denunciation of the acts of maritime piracy carried out by the terrorist Houthi militias with the support of the Iranian regime, the most recent of which was the hijacking of the Central Park,” the statement read.