Houthis’ Cruise Missile Comes Within a Mile of US Destroyer in Red Sea: Close Call Raises Concerns over Naval Security

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – A US destroyer came within a mile of being hit by a cruise missile launched by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea on Tuesday night. This was the closest a Houthi attack has come to a US warship. The missile was shot down by the USS Gravely, which had to use its Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) for the first time. Up until now, US destroyers were able to intercept these missiles at a range of eight miles or more. However, the USS Gravely’s CIWS successfully downed the missile.

The incident highlights the ongoing threat posed by the Houthis to US naval assets and commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Despite strikes on Houthi infrastructure inside Yemen by the US and British forces, the Houthis have continued to launch attacks. This incident follows closely on the heels of a drone attack by Iran-backed militants that killed three US service members in Jordan.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned the attacks against US warships and commercial vessels in the region, pointing out that Iran has provided the Houthis with advanced weapons and expertise. The fact that the Houthi missile was able to get so close to a US warship is a cause for concern. Tom Karako, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, highlighted the challenge faced by air defense in the region, emphasizing that US warships have a finite supply of interceptor missiles.

The Houthis, who acquire much of their weapons technology from Iran, have continued to launch missiles and drones in the Red Sea. Just recently, US forces successfully destroyed a surface-to-air missile that posed a risk to US aircraft operating in the region. The US has also carried out airstrikes on Houthi weapons in Yemen to prevent them from being launched against international shipping lanes and US warships.

It is evident that Iran continues to support and equip the Houthis, supplying them with weapons and tactical intelligence. The US is currently considering how to respond to the drone attack in Jordan, but officials have expressed their desire to avoid a war with Iran, stressing that they are not seeking conflict.