Friday, April 12, 2024

Pentagon says Yemen’s Houthis deployed underwater drone for the first time

Houthi fighters have attempted to use a submersible drone for the first time, but it was destroyed in yet another wave of US-led coalition attacks on Yemeni soil over the weekend, the US Central Command has claimed.

The US Navy conducted a series of five strikes, hitting three Houthi cruise missiles, an unmanned surface vessel (USV) and one unmanned underwater vessel (UUV) on Saturday, CENTCOM announced on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday.

“This is the first observed Houthi employment of a UUV since attacks began in Oct. 23,” the US military wrote, claiming it presented an “imminent threat” to US Navy ships and commercial vessels in the area.

Since the beginning of the Israeli military operation in Gaza, the Houthi militants, who are in control of a large portion of Yemen, have harassed multiple vessels sailing the Red Sea. In solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza, the Houthis vowed to attack any ships they find to be Israel-linked, until the siege of Gaza stops.

In response, the US launched an international maritime coalition to patrol the Red Sea dubbed “Prosperity Guardian”, with the stated goal of protecting the shipping lanes. Since mid-January, the US and the UK have carried out multiple air- and sea-launched attacks against “multiple underground storage facilities, command and control, missile systems, UAV storage and operations sites, radars, and helicopters” in Yemen in an attempt to “degrade Houthi capabilities” to attack military vessels and merchant ships.

The Houthis vowed to “meet escalation with escalation” and expanded their list of potential targets to include US- and UK-owned merchant vessels. While no Houthi missiles have hit a US Navy vessel thus far, the group has launched scores of missiles and drones against the US-led coalition ships in the Red Sea.

The attacks on Suez Canal freight – a route which normally accounts for around 15% of the world’s commercial shipping – have forced major companies to avoid the Red Sea altogether and sail around the coast of Africa, facing increased costs and spiking insurance premiums.

On Sunday, another vessel sailing off the coast of Yemen was hit, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations. The Master of the ship reported an “explosion in close proximity of the vessel resulting in damage”, accounting that all crew was safe.

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