The Iran-backed Houthis, which President Joe Biden delisted as a terrorist organization almost immediately after taking office, have spent weeks harassing commercial vessels in the Red Sea with impunity until the U.S. Navy finally struck back on Saturday.
According to The Blaze, “The Houthis, a rebel group that is funded and backed by Iran and is seeking to wrest control of war-torn Yemen from the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, have been intimidating commercial vessels in the Red Sea since the outbreak of hostilities between Hamas terrorists and Israel on October 7th.”
The outlet also noted that “Numerous commercial vessels have been intercepted or forced to return, and until Saturday international response was largely tepid and ineffective.”
Reports about the latest incident indicate that a U.S. destroyer was patrolling in the Red Sea on Saturday when it received reports that a container vessel had been struck by a missile. While headed to the scene, the destroyer detected and intercepted two additional cruise missiles in flight headed for U.S. naval vessels.
However, this did not deter the terrorists — as the Houthis later attacked the container ship again and attempted to board it, while also firing at U.S. vessels who tried to intervene.
Ultimately, the U.S. Navy was forced to respond to the situation with lethal force.
According to a report from U.S. Central Command, the Navy initially responded to the scene because of reports that a Danish container ship named Maersk Hangzhou was struck by a cruise missile. They then detected and shot down inbound cruise missiles aimed at the USS Gravely and the USS Laboon, which were allegedly sent from Yemen.
U.S. Central Command further explained that the Maersk Hangzhou issued another distress call later that day, prompting U.S. Navy ships to rush to the scene to find Houthi vessels “within 20 meters” of the commercial vessel” and engaged in a firefight with the Maersk Hangzhou’s private security, which was trying to prevent the terrorists from boarding the vessel.
U.S. forces aboard helicopters tried to hail the Houthi boats over loudspeakers, but the terrorists responded by firing at them. The helicopters, which had been dispatched from the USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely, returned fire and sunk three of the boats — killing all the terrorists on board.
Iranian-backed Houthi small boats attack merchant vessel and U.S. Navy helicopters in Southern Red Sea
On Dec. 31 at 6:30am (Sanaa time) the container ship MAERSK HANGZHOU issued a second distress call in less than 24 hours reporting being under attack by four Iranian-backed… pic.twitter.com/pj8NAzjbVF
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) December 31, 2023
Amid mounting criticism, the Biden administration recently redesignated the Houthis as a terrorist organization in response to the recent string of attacks on commercial vessels.
Former President Donald Trump initially declared the Iran-backed rebel group a terrorist organization near the end of his term, but Biden removed that designation after taking office as part of his arms deal with Iran.