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Missiles Fired at U.S. Warship After Yemen Tanker Response

By CM Chaney · November 27, 2023

In brief…

  • U.S. Navy ship responded to distress call from Israeli-linked tanker off Yemen
  • Tanker came under attack from armed assailants who attempted to storm crew quarters
  • U.S. personnel pursued attackers, made arrests as Japanese destroyer assisted
  • Houthis later fired missiles at U.S. ship but missed target
  • Vessel and crew emerged safely; company thanked coalition forces for response
The guided missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG-87) patrols the Northern Persian Gulf. Mason made her first deployment to the Persian Gulf in 2005 as part of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) Carrier Strike Group, to support coalition efforts in the Global War on Terrorism.  United States Navy, Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Peter J. Carney / Wikimedia

A U.S. Navy destroyer responded to a distress call on Sunday from a tanker with ties to an Israeli shipping company that came under attack off the coast of Yemen.

The Liberian-flagged Central Park, carrying phosphoric acid cargo, issued a distress call around 6 a.m. UTC while transiting a designated shipping lane, stating that suspected pirates were attacking the vessel.

The tanker is managed by Zodiac Maritime, a London-based firm owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

A spokesperson for Zodiac told Fox News that five armed assailants boarded the tanker from a skiff after pulling alongside the vessel. The crew locked themselves in a secured room on board as the gunmen attempted to break down the door before making their getaway back to Yemen.

U.S. Navy personnel from the USS Mason pursued the attackers, firing warning shots while a U.S. helicopter provided air support.

A Japanese destroyer also assisted the Mason in the operation. The boarding party was arrested and is being questioned under counter-piracy authorities, according to officials.

The officials stated that Yemen-based Houthi forces later fired two ballistic missiles at the Mason, but both projectiles splashed into the Gulf of Aden short of the ship.

The Zodiac spokesperson said the tanker crew and vessel emerged unharmed from the incidents.

“We would like to thank the coalition forces who responded quickly, protecting assets in the area and upholding international maritime law,” the spokesperson said.

While no group immediately took responsibility, the seizure comes amid rising attacks on ships linked to Israeli interests. It remains unclear whether the Houthis or Somali pirates were behind the initial boarding.