Houthi Militants Strike US-Owned Ship with Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile, Escalating Tensions in Middle Eastern Waters

ADEN, Yemen – Houthi militants targeted a U.S.-owned and operated container ship with an anti-ship ballistic missile in the Gulf of Aden, according to U.S. Central Command. The ship, named M/V Gibraltar Eagle, was struck by the missile on Monday afternoon, causing no injuries or significant damage. It continued its journey unaffected.

The missile was fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, further escalating tensions in the critical Middle Eastern waterways. The Houthis, a Shia rebel group based in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as a successful military operation.

This incident comes after a series of U.S. strikes aimed at diminishing the Houthis’ capabilities. In retaliation, the militia group targeted a U.S. destroyer on Sunday and struck an American-owned commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden on Monday. These attacks raise serious concerns about the security of maritime traffic in this region.

The Gibraltar Eagle, a bulk carrier sailing under the Marshall Islands flag and owned by a Connecticut-based company, was hit by an anti-ship ballistic missile launched by the Houthis. The ship’s captain reported that it was hit from above on its port side.

This marks the first direct strike on an American-owned ship by a Houthi missile during their ongoing assault on maritime traffic in the waters surrounding Yemen. Experts warned that such an attack was inevitable, given the supply of Iranian-provided missiles to the Houthis.

The U.S. government, along with the United Kingdom, had conducted airstrikes on 28 Houthi sites in an effort to degrade the group’s capabilities. However, Gen. Douglas Sims II, the director of operations of the Joint Staff, admitted that the strikes had not fully deterred the militants. More action may be necessary to mitigate the threat posed by the Houthis.

The Biden administration had previously refrained from launching military responses to Houthi attacks, believing that the rebels were not directly targeting U.S. holdings. However, the recent wave of drones and missiles launched by the Houthis in response to a U.S. intervention changed that perception. The group claimed to have targeted an American ship, demanding an end to the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

Despite international condemnation, the Houthis vowed to continue their attacks against American and British ships involved in the aggression against Yemen. However, it’s worth noting that many of the vessels targeted by the Houthis have no connection to Israel, as verified by the Israeli government and international shipping registries.

The situation remains tense in the Gulf of Aden, as the Houthis persist in their campaign and the international community seeks effective solutions to restore stability to the region.