— -- For the second time in four days, a cruise missile has been fired at the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen.
The missile fell into the sea short of the destroyer, which was in international waters in the Red Sea. No one was injured. The Pentagon said it would respond "at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner" to the attack.
"At about 6 p.m. local time today (11 a.m. EDT), the ship detected at least one missile that we assess originated from Houthi-controlled territory near Al Hudaydah, Yemen," said Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary.
"The ship employed defensive countermeasures, and the missile did not reach USS Mason," said Cook, who added that there was no damage to the ship and it will continue its operations.
"Those who threaten our forces should know that U.S. commanders retain the right to defend their ships, and we will respond to this threat at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner," said Cook.
Earlier, a U.S. official characterized the missile as a coastal-defense cruise missile.
The Houthis are an Iranian-backed militia group that seized control of the government in Yemen in early-2015, a move that led to a military intervention in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition.
It was unclear if the countermeasures deployed by the Mason caused the missile to fall into the sea or whether it fell into the water on its own, said a U.S. official.
Initially another U.S. official had said that two cruise missiles had been fired at the Mason.
The attack is similar to one Sunday when two missiles were fired at the Mason over the span of an hour from Houthi-controlled territory.
Countermeasures were used against the first missile though it's unclear whether they are what led the missile to fall into the sea short of the destroyer. The second missile fell into the sea before countermeasures could be deployed.
The United States was already weighing a possible military retaliation against the Houthis for Sunday's attack, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.
"We want, very much, to get to the bottom of what happened,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said. “We're going to find out who did this, and we'll take action accordingly.
“Anytime anyone engages a U.S. Navy ship at sea in hostility they do so at great peril to themselves.”
Houthi militants two weeks ago attacked a transport ship belonging to the United Arab Emirates, one of the countries that has provided troops and support in Yemen against the Houthis.
The recent Houthi attacks are believed to be in response to a coalition airstrike this weekend in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa that killed more than 100 people attending the funeral of a Houthi leader.
That airstrike led the White House to announce it was reviewing its support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.