Houthi Militias Launch Largest Attack Ever on Merchant Vessels in the Red Sea

Iran-Backed Houthis Launch Largest Attack on Merchant Vessels in the Red Sea


A cargo ship boat model is seen in front of “Red Sea” and “Houthi attacks” words in this illustration taken January 9, 2024. 

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

The Attack

In a significant development, U.S. and coalition forces, operating under Operation Prosperity Guardian, responded to what American officials termed as the most substantial attack by Iranian-backed Houthis on merchant vessels in the Red Sea.

According to a senior Defense Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the attack took place in two locations: Southwest of Mokha, Yemen, and Hodeidah, Yemen.

Approximately 50 merchant vessels were present in the area during the attack. Crews reported being targeted by rocket fire and armed drones. At the time of the report, there were no reports of damage to any vessels.

Coalition Response

Responding swiftly, four coalition warships were deployed to the area, as confirmed by Pentagon officials. It is important to note that no Iranian warships were involved in the attack. A national security official highlighted that this incident marks the largest attack on commercial shipping.

This is the first major attack by the Houthis since 13 nations, including the United States, issued a joint statement vowing to hold the militants accountable for their attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Furthermore, CENTCOM reported successfully shooting down an unmanned aerial drone launched by the Houthis on Jan. 6 using the U.S.S. Laboon (DDG 59).

Evidence of the Attack

The global maritime security firm Ambrey reported that the coalition warships were operating at maximum speed. Additionally, a tanker crew reported witnessing flares or missile trails in the waters off Mokha.

Another report from a bulk carrier crew stated that they observed three small vessels, from which two missiles were fired. They also spotted a drone flying ahead of their vessel.

Houthi Motive

In December, the Iran-backed Houthi militia group warned that they would continue their attacks until Gaza receives the necessary food and medicines.

Notably, Israel has been conducting a massive bombing campaign in Gaza since Hamas killed over 1,000 people in Israel in October. According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, more than 29,000 munitions were fired into Gaza from the air. The number of lives lost in Gaza has surpassed 20,000, as reported by the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry.


This is a developing story, and updates will follow.

Read More of this Story at www.cnbc.com – 2024-01-10 00:53:00

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