Missiles Fired From Rebel-Held Territory in Yemen at US Destroyer in Red Sea

Two missiles were fired at but did not hit the USS Mason.

October 10, 2016, 1:14 AM

— -- Two missiles were fired at the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Mason while it was in international waters off the coast of Yemen on Sunday. No one was hurt in the incident, as both missiles did not strike the vessel and landed in the water.

"At approximately 7 p.m. local time today [Oct. 9], while conducting routine operations in international waters in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, USS Mason detected two inbound missiles over a 60-minute period," said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

"Both missiles impacted the water before reaching the ship," he said. "There were no injuries to our sailors and no damage to the ship."

"We assess the missiles were launched from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen," said Davis. The Houthis, an Iranian-backed militia group, seized control of Yemen in 2015 — a move that led neighboring Gulf states to intervene militarily against the Houthis.

"The United States remains committed to ensuring freedom of navigation everywhere in the world, and we will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our ships and our service members," he said.

At the time of the attack, the Mason was in the southern end of the Red Sea, north of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. The Mason; another destroyer, the USS Nitze; and the afloat forward staging base USS Ponce were sent to the area after a missile attack a week ago on a United Arab Emirates swift transport vessel in international waters.

The Emirati ship was heavily damaged in the attack, which is believed to have come from Houthi forces who used speedboats to launch shoulder-fired missiles at the ship when it was more than 12 miles offshore.

A Defense Department official said the Mason's crew used unidentified onboard defensive measures against the first missile, but it was unclear what caused the missile to strike the water instead of the ship.

For security reasons, the official would not identify the defensive measure used or how far out the destroyer was in international waters beyond the 12 mile limit from shore.

The official said Sunday's incident is under investigation. "We take this very seriously. We will protect our people," said the official.