US warship shoots down suspected Houthi drone in Red Sea, officials say

The drone was heading "directly" at the warship, a U.S. official said.

December 13, 2023, 7:27 AM

U.S. officials confirm to ABC News that two missiles were fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward a commercial tanker vessel in the Red Sea Wednesday, with the projectiles missing the ship.

The tanker had just entered the Red Sea on its way toward the Suez Canal, an official said. During the incident, a U.S. warship shot down a drone launched from Yemen, the officials said.

The drone was heading in the direction of the USS Mason, which is the warship that shot down the unmanned aircraft, three U.S. officials told ABC News.

"The drone was heading directly at it," one of the officials said.

The Navy has not yet been able to assess whether the USS Mason was the drone's target, according to U.S. officials.

When such a ship detects an incoming drone or projectile heading its way, the commander will generally order it to be shot down in self defense, as happened in this case, an official said.

The Mason shot the drone down while responding to reports the Houthis were attacking the Motor Vessel Ardmore Encounter, using skiffs and then firing the two missile that missed, according to the official, who said this occurred at approximately 8 a.m. local time.

On Monday night an anti-ship cruise missile fired from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen struck another commercial vessel in the Red Sea, the MT STRINDA, casing a fire, but no casualties, according to Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder.

During an on-camera briefing Tuesday, Ryder remarked on the threat posed by Houthi attacks in the region, and efforts to stand up an international maritime task force to address the problem.

"We're continuing to take the situation in the Red Sea extremely seriously, there should be no doubt about that," Ryder said. "The actions that we've seen from these Houthi forces are destabilizing, they're dangerous, and clearly a flagrant violation of international law. And so this is an international problem that requires an international solution. We do continue to consult closely with our international allies and partners on implementing a maritime task force."

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this story.