U.S. Navy/Bill Mesta/Reuters/File
Witness the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Mason maneuvering alongside a fleet replenishment oiler in the Atlantic Ocean on July 17, 2021.
Two ballistic missiles were fired from Houthi rebel-controlled Yemen toward a US warship in the Gulf of Aden, after the US Navy responded to a distress call from a commercial tanker that had been seized by armed individuals, the US military said Sunday.
The tanker, identified as the Central Park, had been carrying a cargo of phosphoric acid when its crew called for help that “they were under attack from an unknown entity,” the US Central Command said in a statement.
Joining forces, the USS Mason, a guided-missile destroyer, and allied ships from a counter-piracy task force that operates in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia responded to the call for help and “demanded release of the vessel” upon arrival, Central Command said.
“Subsequently, five armed individuals debarked the ship and attempted to flee via their small boat,” said the statement posted on social media platform X.
“The Mason pursued the attackers resulting in their eventual surrender,” the statement added, without identifying the attackers.
Later, at 1:41 a.m. local time on Monday morning, two ballistic missiles were fired from areas controlled by Houthi rebels in Yemen “toward the general location” of the USS Mason and Central Park, the statement said.
“The missiles landed in the Gulf of Aden approximately ten nautical miles from the ships,” the statement said.
The Mason was finishing its response to the Central Park’s distress call at the time of the missile launches. There was no damage or reported injuries from the Central Park or the Mason as a result, it added.
A statement from Zodiac Maritime, which manages the Central Park, said Sunday the Liberian-flagged chemical tanker was safe “and all of the crew, the vessel, and cargo are unharmed.”
The tanker appears to have links to an Israeli-owned company; Zodiac Maritime is listed as a business belonging to Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Ofer Global, though a spokesperson speaking on behalf of Zodiac Maritime, Janni Jarvinen, said Sunday that Zodiac “is not owned by Ofer Global.”
Gen. Erik Kurilla, commander of US Central Command, said in the statement on Sunday that maritime domain security ‘is essential to regional stability.”
“We will continue to work with allies and partners to ensure the safety and security of international shipping lanes,” Kurilla said.